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William Blake

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The most fundamental aspect of William Blake's poetry was his fluent use of contraries. These he used in a number of ways to convey his deepest sentiments of man. Blake had two strong opposing forces within him, which were; his views of man, and what he believed man should be. Blake felt bitter resentment toward the Industrial Revolution that had expanded around him. He had to use his poetic plea as a weapon against the exploitation of the working class. This resulted in the "Songs of innocence and Experience," as well as "Auguries of Innocence" which marked his contention with divine retribution. Blake saw how disgraceful his world had become, and used the power of contraries to reveal the sacredness inherent in the nature of a child's innocence.

William Blake saw all the inconsistencies that made up the London of his time. Though he was deeply spiritual, he found that organized religion itself was heavily confining and hypocritical. He made mention of this in his two poems of the "Chimney Sweeper," where he critiqued the underlying truths of the revolution. In Innocence, He showed the naпve nature of the small children who were sold into the workforce. They believed that if they were good boys "they'd have God for a father and never want joy," and "If all did [do] their duty, they need not fear harm." The harm of their work did great physical damage, and Blake believed that the chilling image would shock and evoke compassion. In contrast, the Experience form of the "Chimney Sweeper" was far more unsettling. The children were so young they could barely cry the words "sweep, sweep" to sell their services. It came out "weep, weep," as if they were crying in the streets. In the poem Blake begs as to where the parents are, and "they are both gone up to the church to pray," to praise God, and "make up a heaven of their (the children's)[our]


misery." The irony of this was meant to be unsettling, Blake attempted to show his discontent

that man could worship and pray one way, and live another, while children died in the streets.

Another set of poems called "Holy Thursday" served to enhance his view on the child labor force. In Innocence he wrote of what Holy Thursday should be, he spoke of many clean innocent faces, which were the "flowers of London town," perhaps to reinforce the purity associated with flowers. This poem told men to cherish those less fortunate because they might be "driving [drive] an angel (such as the children) from their [your] door." The pleasant poem was also contradicted by Experience; Blake questioned the holiness of the day by asking, "Is this a holy thing to see, in a rich a fruitful land- Babes reduced to misery...?" Immediately he went on to cast aside the perceived prosperity, by calling it a land of poverty because of the poor, slave-worked children whom no one seemed to care for. Blake felt the children lived in an "eternal winter," where the sun never shone; their life was dark, and shortened by the cruel reality of their world. He was gravely disturbed by what he saw. Pious hypocrites were blessed at church altars while their own children worked in the streets for the greatness of England.

His feelings all culminated into one penetrating work; the "Auguries of Innocence" where Blake detailed the punishment of those who dare ruin youthful virtue.

The title of the poem itself speaks of a warning, and of threats to innocence.

Blake stated that "He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mock'd in Age and Death," and continued with; "he



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