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Songs of Innocence and of Experience Paperback – January 1, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1420925807 ISBN-10: 1420925806

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Digireads.com (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420925806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420925807
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,053,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry has led one British art journalist to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". Although he lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God", or "Human existence itself". Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterized as part of both the Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th century scholar William Rossetti characterised Blake as a "glorious luminary," and as "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors." Historian Peter Marshall has classified Blake as one of the forerunners of modern anarchism, along with Blake's contemporary William Godwin. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

Both the student and connoisseur of the classics will enjoy this series of inexpensive audiobooks, each of which includes a Dover-Thrift edition of the text. The newcomer to classic poetry and prose, in particular, may experience in their spoken form an awakening to the beauty and power of these literary masters. It's hard to imagine a better introduction to William Blake's poetry than stage actors Brian Murray's and Suzanne Toren's audio rendition of SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE. Their alternating readings of Songs of Innocence vibrate with the reverence of Blake's vision of childhood as paradise lost; in Songs of Experience one fully senses Blake's later disillusion. The two books provide counterpoint to each other, an effect enhanced by the use of male and female readers. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This is a great William Blake poem book.
Kitty Cat
The dedicated will want to seek out editions reproducing the artwork in addition to the poems.
Bill R. Moore
Anyone interested in poetry needs to read these poems.
George Schaefer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Chell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
To begin with, it can be helpful to distinguish between "aesthetic" worldly poets/musicians and "vatic"/prophetic artists. Keats and Shakespeare, Ellington and Bill Evans belong in the first category; Shelley and Milton (and, of course, Dante) along with John Coltrane and Sun Ra belong in the second.

Blake is the foremost representative of the latter group--the bards (Milton was his hero; America's Ezra Pound his foremost descendant). Of all the so-called "Romantic" poets, he is in many respects the most atypical. Time, its passing, its presence as "personal memory," specific referents to particular places, the fleshing-out of human figures, whether upper or lower class--all this is of little interest to the visionary prophet written off as "crazy" during his life-time, eventually canonized by the Beatniks in the 1950s, and finally admitted to respectable academia. Earthly phenomena are of little interest to him because, frankly, they have no status in reality. I deliberately steer students away from his graphic art, because its symbolic nature is poorly understood by a generation brought up on images that glorify the material world (if the emphasis isn't on the "real," it's on the surreal or "hyper-real"--but the real with which today's readers identify is anything but the spiritual cosmos that Blake finds everywhere, whether a tiger or a grain of sand. (Pity his wife, who understandably had little patience with him.) More often than not, Blake's pictures nowadays detract from, rather than support, the poetry.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By George Schaefer on March 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
William Blake is one of the giants of poetry. He is often overlooked because of the obliqueness of many of his poems. But this affordable (read: cheap) collection of poems is well worth the price of admission. Most of Blakes most famous and well loved poems are included in this volume. Most of us had to read at least a couple of these poems in school. The Tyger still stands as one of the great poems of the English language. The Fly, The Lamb, Children of a Future Age, London and Ah, Sunflower are all included here. These are some of the most beautiful poems ever written. Even if you struggle to understand the meaning, the sheer beauty and music of the verses can still carry you away. Anyone interested in poetry needs to read these poems. It is among the best ever written.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Comberousse on July 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is specific to the Kindle edition which is impossible to read due to formatting problems. As a previous reviewer noted, even on the smallest size font the end of many of the poems is cut off. I even tried reading it on my PC to see if that helped - it didn't. A great pity because the content deserves five stars. Don't waste your time downloading this version, even if it is free. Either wait until the formatting issues have been resolved, or pay for a decent version.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By meadowreader on June 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A very high-quality hardback edition, with thick paper, sewn binding, and fine, full-size reproductions of Blake's illustrations from the excellent Cambridge originals. Originals vary a good deal; compare these with the muddy ones used in the Oxford edition. Each illustration faces the associated poem, the only sensible layout, but something the Oxford edition does not do, for some reason. The introductory notes by Richard Holmes are brief, but extremely good.

All that's lacking are detailed explanatory notes for the individual poems, but those are available on web and elsewhere, and they aren't much needed for these poems in any case.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
William Blake is one of the most original and influential English poets - so eccentric and ground-breaking that even his biggest fans considered him insane long after his death. The poems in Songs of Innocence & Experience are his most popular and lasting achievement, essential for anyone even remotely interested in poetry and a good place for those new to Blake and poetry generally to start.

1789's Songs of Innocence celebrated innocence as variously reflected in childhood, showing infants' and children's relatively pure mental and physical states before adult corruption. Many of its poems are first person from a child's perspective, and most of the rest describe a child's point of view; others speak to or about them. Blake used appropriately simple vocabulary and form; lines are short, rhymes obvious, and imagery very pared down. Indeed, at first glance, the poems seem puerile. However, a closer look shows they are anything but; despite - or perhaps even to a certain degree because of - this, they have a wealth of significance. They are in fact at least as complex as most far longer works; extremely thought-provoking and often morally ambiguous, they raise a host of important questions. These apparently simple poems address a wide range of theological and ontological queries. They also deal with more practical themes like class, race, and family relations, taking on economic, social, and other concerns. Most of these are answered with conventional platitudes heavily soaked in Christianity; the poems seem a paean to optimism and can be very uplifting, but cynics may even laugh aloud.

However, this is only half the story. In 1794 Blake added Songs of Experience, which essentially carried the concept into adulthood.
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