A video enhanced edition of the works of William Blake. The complete sets of Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience are displayed and analyzed by Providence eLearning English Professor William Lasseter along with several additional poems and paintings.
Published first in 1789 Songs of Innocence revealed one half of a two part thesis by Blake on the state of human perception. Blake saw the world as composed of two contrary and complementary states, calling them respectively “Innocence” and “Experience”. He even subtitled his work as “Showing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.” Both sets of poetry are allegorical ways of looking at states of mind, or consciousness.
Songs of Experience was bound together with “Songs of Innocence” and printed in 1794. In it Blake sets forth the second part of his two part thesis on human perception. He quite boldly dissents from the established governmental, societal and religious institutions of England all of which encouraged citizens to suppress their feelings. As Blake claims, these institutions, “With false self-deceiving tears / Didst bind my nostrils, eyes, and ears” and “Didst close my tongue in senseless clay.”
William Blake always envisioned his works as expressions of prophecy. In fact, he seems to have thought of himself as being the living embodiment of the spirit of the great poet, John Milton. His prophetic voice claimed that, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” His prophecy was not just in written words but also in printing and painting, thus constituting a full artistic vision.