By Alan Tomlinson (auth.)
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Extra resources for Macmillan Master Guides Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake
Laughing Song Like 'The Blossom' this poem shows happy, carefree children in full harmony with all nature. Not only 'Mary and Susan and Emily' but also plants, insects, birds, even the very air, all together 'laugh with the voice of joy'. This is of course a subjective or mental image. The humanising of nature in the children's imaginations is apparent in almost every line. But that does not make the vision less true, rather, it emphasises how completely the children identify themselves with their environment.
Such a mind, its perceptions limited to the facts of sensory data, is caught in the trap described by Blake eight lines from the end of 'Auguries of Innocence': We are led to Believe a Lie When we see not Thro' the Eye. Around 1810, drafting a prose essay which sets out to explain the symbolism of his painting of the Last Judgment, Blake enlarges upon this idea: I assert for My Self that I do not behold the outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance & not Action; it is as the Dirt upon my feet, No part of Me.
And so many children poor'. Moreover, in 'Fed with cold and usurous hand' it casts doubt upon the motives of those who do offer some help. 'Usury' is the technical term for lending money and charging interest on the loan. The speaker is suggesting that the guardians expect some return on their investment of charity: perhaps just such a public display of gratitude as the service in St Paul's could be said to be; perhaps the raising up of a docile and servile workforce. The last stanza shows that the world of innocence is not entirely a closed book to experience, even if it is but a distant dream, as the speaker thinks of a land which would offer peace and plenty for all whether 'the sun does shine' or 'the rain does fall,' a place utterly unlike the 'land of poverty' that he actually sees around him, where 'It is eternal winter'.
Macmillan Master Guides Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake by Alan Tomlinson (auth.)