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William Blake’s “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow, Essay

I chose William Blake’s “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow,” because they represent two different perspectives of innocence. I particularly liked “Infant Joy,” due to its dark symbolism, imagery, and figurative depiction of innocence. It is quite shocking that an infant would describe a new world as “dangerous” (Blake 2), where the infant’s parents would either weep or groan, as if in terror. Parents should be happy when they see their baby, but this poem paints a different picture.

An infant described as a “fiend” is also hardly anticipated; this image is quite perplexing, because innocence has been doused into the murky waters of evil (Blake 4). At the same time, the infant, who has just been born, already feels “bound and weary” (Blake 7). The infant even “sulks” upon his mother’s breast (Blake 8). “Sulk” is a pun for “suck,” which renders a different interpretation of depending on a mother for nurturance (Carson 150; Bender and Mellor 300). On the other hand, “Infant Joy” focuses on the traditional understanding of innocence.

It depicts an infant, who is described with the terms “sweet joy” (Blake 5). There are also two voices involved, that between the mother and infant. The mother is utterly happy for her child and wishes the latter “sweet joy” (Blake 12). These emotions seem more apt for portraying an innocent child’s birth (Moore 209). Thus, together, these two poems present different aspects of innocence, which will be helpful in understanding the complexity of human nature. 2: List your thesis statement. This should be one sentence and it should focus on the literature.

“Infant Sorrow” and “Infant Joy” have the same theme of oppression, but described in different strategies, because the former is more realistic in directly undermining the happiness of being born into a society, wherein individual freedoms and rights are often trampled, beginning with the family unit, while the latter provides a cautious agreement with an infant’s idealistic understanding of the world. 3. Read pages 96-99 in your textbook and then list: a. An idea from the literature that you can compare.

Create a topic sentence that can be supported by a full paragraph of analysis and or examples or quotes from the textbook or your research. “Infant Joy” is similar to “Infant Sorrow,” because they both describe the strong emotions that surround birth. “Infant Joy” portrays the happiness of an infant in being born: “I happy am. /Joy is my name” (Blake 4-5). The infant feels vigorously happy enough to even name herself as “Joy. ” The mother’s voice is also present in this poem, and she also feels exuberant that she sings for her baby: “I sing thee while” (Blake 11).

She calls her baby “pretty,” a fitting description for a joyful baby. “Infant Sorrow” is also full of strong emotions. The infant emphatically feels the lack of safety in its world, as it leaps to the “dangerous world” (Blake 2). It feels strongly oppressed also, as it “struggles” in his father’s hands (Blake 5). Parents in this poem also express resounding emotions, as the mother “groaned” and the father “wept” (Blake 1). Thus, both poems explore the avalanche of strong emotions that come with childbirth. b. Another idea from the literature that you can compare.

Create a topic sentence that can be supported by a full paragraph of analysis and or examples or quotes from the textbook or your research. “Infant Joy” is the same as “Infant Sorrow,” because they both employ little to no figurative language. For “Infant Sorrow,” the most striking figurative language is the simile, “Like a fiend hid in the cloud” (Blake 4). Another is the pun of “sulk,” instead of “suck” (Blake 8). For “Infant Joy,” there are no evident figures of speech. This makes the poem very straightforward to some extent. c. An idea from the literature that you can contrast.

Create a topic sentence that can be supported by a full paragraph of analysis and or examples or quotes from the textbook or your research. “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow” use different structures. In “Infant Sorrow,” Blake uses a regular AABB rhyme scheme for both stanzas, but in “Infant Joy,” he uses ABCDAC for the first stanza and ABCDDC for the second. Furthermore, the most distinct pattern in “Infant Joy” is the double rhyme that recurs in lines three, six, nine, and twelve. This rhyming pattern contrasts with the more stable rhyme of “Infant Sorrow.

” This signifies an uncertainty in the voice of the mother in “Infant Joy,” as she wishes her child a happy life. The mother could be suppressing the reality that happiness is rarely attainable. Hence, “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow” possess different structures that also impact their meanings. d. Another idea you can contrast. Create a topic sentence that can be supported by a full paragraph of analysis and or examples or quotes from the textbook or your research. “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow” represent two different aspects of human life, because of the different speakers or voices involved.

“Infant Sorrow” illustrates a more realistic version of the world, wherein the infant should fear it because it is a “dangerous world” (Blake 2). The speaker is an adult who is disillusioned of life, because in this world, people will only feel “helpless” and “naked,” and that though they may be “piping loud,” no one will hear their cries for help and freedom (Blake 3). The speaker also describes human beings as “fiend[s] hidden in a cloud” (Blake 4), because people would always feel oppressed and sense the need to cower in fear, as if they were criminals. They are hidden in a cloud; however, the cloud cannot protect them.

It can even bring them a storm of destruction. The society is also filled with oppression, beginning with the family, because children often struggle against their fathers and their rulers: “Struggling in my father’s hands” (Blake 5). People would only wish to survive and be free, but they would remain “striving” against society’s “swaddling bands” (Blake 6). In the end, there is hopelessness, because people cannot possibly survive without depending on a state to protect them, no matter how oppressive it might be, so they “sulk” as they suck on what little nurturance society can offer.

On the other hand, “Infant Joy” represents the lighter perspective of life. The voices come from an infant and mother who understand that life is joyful. “Infant Joy” portrays the happiness of an infant in being born: “I happy am. /Joy is my name” (Blake 4-5). The mother feels high-spirited enough to sing for her baby: “I sing thee while” (Blake 11). She also calls her baby “pretty,” which describes the beauty of the world. Thus, “Infant Joy” presents a more positive view of the world, while “Infant Sorrow” underscores the sadness of human existence. 5. Post your introductory paragraph below.

Make sure you catch the reader’s attention, list the titles of the literature and the authors’ names. Your introduction should end with your thesis statement. Human existence can be summed up in an infant’s realization that the world is a dangerous and unhappy place to live in. That is the main message of “Infant Sorrow” by William Blake. “Infant Sorrow” strongly contrasts with Blake’s other poem, “Infant Joy. ” “Infant Joy” celebrates childbirth, as the infant christens herself as “Joy. ” Her mother celebrates with her by singing a song and calling her “pretty joy” (Blake 7) and “sweet joy” (Blake 8).

However, there is more to “Infant Joy” than its too-evident joyfulness. There is a mask of exaggeration in the happiness that can be unfurled to reveal a deeper understanding of human existence. “Infant Sorrow” and “Infant Joy” have the same theme of oppression, but described in different strategies, because the former is more realistic in directly undermining the happiness of being born into a society, wherein individual freedoms and rights are often trampled, beginning with the family unit, while the latter provides a cautious agreement with an infant’s idealistic understanding of the world.

Works cited Bender, John and Anne Mellor. “Liberating the Sister Arts: The Revolution of Blake’s ‘Infant Sorrow. ’” ELH 50. 2 (1983), pp. 297-319 Carson, Ricks. “Blake’s ‘Infant Sorrow’. ” Explicator 52. 3 (1994): 150-51. Blake, William. Infant Joy. 893. Blake, William. Infant Sorrow. 894. Moore, Donald K. “Blake’s Notebook Versions of ‘Infant Sorrow. ’” Bulletin of the New York Public Library 76 (1972): 209 – 219.


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