William Blake Poems

The Little Black Boy
– A boy from “the Southern Wild”
– His mother explains to him that the reason he has dark skin is because he receives so much of God’s love, in the form of light.
– The boy then explains this to a little English boy, and tells him that they will one day be equal.
– Link: Infant sorrow = seeking comfort from mother, and contrasting views on life.

The Lamb
– This poem asks many questions.
– The narrator asks a little lamb questions about it’s origin, food source, clothing, and more.
– The narrator tells the Lamb the answers to these questions and that God made him.
– Represents Innocence.
– Complimentary opposite = The Tyger (evil)

The Tyger
– This poem works out who created the Tyger.
– The narrator asks who made the Tyger’s eyes, who started the Tyger’s heart and who made the Tyger’s brain.
– The narrator asks if the creator of the Tyger was happy with what he had crated when he was finished, and asks if the same entity that created the Tyger, created the lamb.
– Complimentary opposite = The Lamb

The Sick Rose
– Eerie tone.
– The narrator tells the rose that it is sick, then explains that it is because an invisible worm has, under the cover of darkness, stolen into its bed.
– The love of the invisible worm is destroying the rose’s life.
– This is most commonly interpreted as representing sex/rape.
– Link: Visions = destructiveness of love/sex

Infant Joy
– Shows the happy side of birth.
– Dialogue between a mother and child.
– They discuss what the child should be called. It gets called Joy.
– The second stanza is dwelling on the happiness of this new baby.
– Complimentary opposite = Infant Sorrow.

Infant Sorrow
– Unpleasant side of birth.
– The narrator, the child that is being born, talks about the noises of pain that his mother and father make during his birth.
– The child describes his entrance into the world in a frightening manner.
– Link: Little Black Boy = seeking comfort from mother. Auguries = “Swaddling Bands”
– Complimentary opposite = Infant Joy.

London
– Shows Blake’s dislike of London.
– Narrator is walking through the streets of London
– Points out the negative things that they come across.
– Talks of the cries of men and infants, chimney sweepers, and the Harlots ruining love and marriage.
– Church doesn’t help chimney sweepers
– Link: Infant Sorrow = restrictions and corruption of society.

Milton
– Discusses whether Jesus has once walked on England’s land.
– The narrator asks if Jesus was “amoung these dark satanic mills”, which is a reference to the industrial revolution.
– The narrator’s demands for their weapons to be brought to them.
– The narrator will not rest until England becomes a Holy place.
– Link: London = ruined land. The Chimney Sweeper = industrial revolution.

Visions of the Daughters of Albion
– The narrator states her love for Theomorton.
– Oothoon, who was the narrator in the beginning, represents America.
– Bromion represents England.
– Bromion rapes Oothoon, stripping her of her virginity. – Theomorton no longer wants Oothoon.
– Oothoon is extremely upset that Theomorton no longer loves her.
– This represents the destructive capabilities of England, at a time where America was young and uncorrupted.
– Link: The Sick Rose = destruction of love.

Song
– About a young girl, who is the narrator, who is seduced by the love of a man.
– Before she gives into his love, her world is pleasurable and “sweet”, but after she gives into him, she is caged and trapped.
– Her innocence has been taken away from her, and her lover plays with her feelings.
– Link: Visions = destruction and entrapment of love.

The Chimney Sweeper
– Narrated by a young boy who talks a bit about his life as a chimney sweeper.
– Talks about how he came to be a chimney sweeper, then discusses his friend Tom Dacre.
– Tom is a scared little boy, but the narrator comforts him.
– Tom has a dream about an angel freeing him and his friends from the coffins they are locked in. They then run freely.
– Tom is comforted by his dream, and when he wakes up he is much more happy.
– Criticises church and industrial revolution.
– Link: London = Church not helping chimney sweepers.

Mary
– Begins with discussing the adoration everyone has for a lady named Mary.
– Mary has sex with someone, and the next morning no one wants to be around her.
– Mary curses her own beauty, asking why she had to be born with the face she does, into such a cruel world.
– She states that she is going to do all that she can to make sure that no one is jealous of her anymore, but no matter how hard she tries, everyone still rejects her.
– Destruction of society and love.
– Link: Song = destruction of love.

Auguries of Innocence
– Portrays the downfall of human nature by naming a series of instances where humans do something, and nature has to suffer the consequences.
– References to animals and insects.
– A summation of Blake’s predictions for what will happen to the natural world if humans continue to be careless.
– Link: Little Black Boy = God is light. Infant Sorrow = Swaddling bands.

What is the price of experience?
– Asks what people do to gain experience.
– The narrator states that experience costs people their family and his house.
– No one wants wisdom, and no one tries to become wise.
– Narrator discusses how it is easy for one to be happy and tell others to be happy when they aren’t in any pain, and how it is easy to laugh off bad things in life when you’re not experiencing them.
– The states how easy it is to be happy like this, but it is not so with her.
– Link: Mary = Woman ranting.