Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss William Blake’s collection of illustrated poems “Songs of Innocence and of Experience.” He published Songs of Innocence first in 1789 with five hand-coloured copies and, five years later, with additional Songs of Experience poems and the explanatory phrase “Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.” Blake drew on the street ballads and improving children’s rhymes of the time, exploring the open and optimistic outlook of early childhood with the darker and more cynical outlook of adult life, in which symbols such as the Lamb belong to innocence and the Tyger to experience.

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  • Sir Jonathan Bate 16 episodes
    Provost of Worcester College, University of Oxford
  • Sarah Haggarty No other episodes
    Lecturer at the Faculty of English and Fellow of Queens' College, University of Cambridge
  • Jon Mee 2 episodes
    Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of York

Reading list

  • Blake
    Peter Ackroyd (Vintage, 1996) Google Books →
  • A Cambridge Companion to William Blake
    Morris Eaves (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Vision and Disenchantment: Blake's Songs and Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads
    Heather Glen (Cambridge University Press, 1983) Google Books →
  • William Blake: Songs of Innocence and of Experience - A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism
    Sarah Haggarty and Jon Mee (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) Google Books →
  • Reading Blake's Songs
    Zachary Leader (Routledge & Kegan Paul Books, 1981) Google Books →
  • Reading William Blake
    Saree Makdisi (Cambridge University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • William Blake and the Creation of the Songs: From Manuscript to Illuminated Printing
    Michael Phillips (The British Library, 2000) Google Books →
  • Witness against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law
    E. P. Thompson (Cambridge University Press, 1993) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b07gh4pg

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Auto-category: 821.7 (English poetry)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, the artist and poet William Blake published Songs of Innocence in 1789, the year of the French Revolution.