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Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, 1789-1794 (Oxford Paperbacks) Paperback – October 27, 1977


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Masterpieces of English lyric poetry, written and illustrated by William Blake. Songs of Innocence, published in 1789, was Blake's first great demonstration of "illuminated printing," his unique technique of publishing both text and hand-colored illustration together. The rhythmic subtlety and delicate beauty of both his lyrics and his designs created rare harmony on his pages. The poems transformed his era's street ballads and rhymes for children into some of the purest lyrics in the English language. In 1794 Blake published Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. It contained a slightly rearranged version of Songs of Innocence with the addition of Songs of Experience. The poems reflect Blake's views that experience brings the individual into conflict with rules, moralism, and repression; as a result, the songs of experience are bitter, ironic replies to those of the earlier volume. The Lamb is the key symbol of Innocence; in Experience its rival image is the Tyger, the embodiment of energy, strength, lust, and aggression. See also THE TYGER. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

About the Author

William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 27, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192810898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192810892
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.6 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Oddsfish VINE VOICE on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was recently lucky to see the Gutenburg to Gone With the Wind Exhibit in Austin, Texas recently. At that marvelous exhibit I got to see one of Blake's original editions of Songs of Innocence. After that, I (of course) had to find a copy with the amazing poems and the amazing artwork by Blake. This edition satisfied both criteria well. First of all, the poems are brilliant. Everybody has read such works as "Little Boy Lost," "Little Boy Found," "The Shepherd," "The Lamb," and "The Tyger." These poems are just as good as they are made out to be. Each poem is excrutiatingly simple (in the style of children's verse), and each has such depth. The artwork is all in this edition, too, and it is fabulous. The colors are exactly like those of Blake's. I really think that the poems should never be read without Blake's engravings. This is a marvelous book for poetry lovers to own. It is high quality and affordable. Any fan of Blake's should own this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Soski on June 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Other Amazon users may be familiar with the Amazon.com practice of posting the Editorial reviews from a SIMILAR product and adding marginal and easy-to-overlook footnotes stating that the posted reviews actually refer to an "alternate paperback edition." I was not aware of the practice before purchasing this book, but aside from that there is no twin footnote floating around the Customer Reviews section below the Editorials to tell you that the reviews provided are from a different book as well, nor can you see what book is ACTUALLY being reviewed unless you leave the book's page and go to See All. Most of the reviews are for this book:

Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, 1789-1794 (Worlds Classics) [Paperback] William Blake (Author, Illustrator), Sir Geoffrey Keynes (Introduction) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0192810898/ref=dp_proddesc_2?ie=UTF8&n=283155

Why post reviews of a book that the reviews are not for, on its own page? That is not only confusing, but misleading. The book I bought and received is the one with a portrait of Blake on the cover, and its ISBN is 97816119492998--which is not the ISBN posted in Amazon.com's Product Details section, as of June 1, 2012. Amazon lists it as xxxxxxxxxx2997.

There are NO illustrations in this edition. In fact, there isn't any publisher information beyond "Printed in the USA" on the bottom of the first page after the cover. I have not read this book, and am not familiar enough with Blake's work to be able to determine off the cuff if there are any errors or typos. I am assuming that if you only want the poetry of Songs of Innocence and Experience, than it is probably fine--and yes, most likely free of errors/typos.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
There are larger, more luxurious graphical editions of Blake's two most popular works but the Oxford SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND OF EXPERIENCE is perhaps the most affordable and convenient.
After a short introductory piece which makes the reader expect a pastoral mood, SONGS OF INNOCENCE opens with "The Shepherd", and the reader is immediately acquainted with Blake's style: deceptively simple, but filled with metaphor and allusion. Many of the poems speak of the solace of Christianity, but Blake shows a more universal and tolerant tranquility found through appreciation of simple human virtues. In "The Divine Image", he writes: "And all must love the human form, / in heathen, turk, or jew. / Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, / there God is dwelling too."
Even within SONGS OF EXPERIENCE, the most pessimistic and cynical half, Blake maintains a his childlike style in order to bring the truth of human experience to anyone at all, young and old. In "A Poison Tree" he writes: "I was angry with my friend: / I told my wrath, my wrath did end. / I was angry with my foe: / I told it not, my wrath did grow", concisely summarising the effects of pride and ill-will on one's soul.
Blake was by profession an engraver, and his engravings for SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE are so closely bound to the text of the poems that a photocopy edition is really the only way to enjoy the poems as they were meant. In this paperback edition, the original engraving can be seen along side a typeset text, presented in a size large enough that the words can be relatively easily made out and, perhaps more importantly, the reader can see Blake's mythological characters.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
While most people remember Blake for "Tyger, tyger, burning bright" and "Little Lamb, who made thee?" his other poems are wonderful as well. The point of the poems doesn't seem to be that aging brings experience, but that experience changes innocence, to some degree. For instance, the Chimney Sweep is about children who work as chimney sweeps but dream of heaven. Many of the poems have symbolic and religious meanings. The imagery is beautiful and poignant. I recommend Blake's poems to people who appreciate meaning and depth in poetry.
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