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What use does Blake make of pastoral imagery in Songs of Innocence and Experience?

Pastoral Poetry is a literary work dealing with the lives of shepherds or rural life in general and typically drawing a contrast between the innocence and serenity of a simple life and the misery and corruption of city and especially court life. In his poetry Blake uses pastoral imagery to represent an ideal setting for innocent and uses it to juxtapose against the urbanized poems of experience showing that the natural world is the ideal state and human interference is ruining it. -pastoral represents freedom and innocent unmarred by nature, welcoming friendly:

Valleys wild free open landscape no constraints or limitations


-desire for pastoral shows longing for that Lack of Pastoral imagery Many of the poems in Songs of Innocence are pastoral, and take place among green hills and spring meadows in the company of lambs and shepherds. Those that are not set in the countryside often invoke it, so that little Tom in "The Chimney Sweeper" dreams of the country and the orphans of "Holy Thursday" are "flowers of London town" ("Holy Thursday," Innocence, line 5) showcasing Blake s belief ht return to a pastoral lifestyle will eliminate the cruelty of the urbanized world and the children can regain their innocence. In the world of Songs of Experience, the idealized pastoral landscape appears far less often. The companion piece to Songs of Innocence's "Holy Thursday," for example, tells us that for poor children, "their sun does never shine. / And their fields are bleak & bare" ("Holy Thursday," Experience, lines 9 10). When the setting is the countryside, as in Experience's "Nurse's Song," corruption and jealousy have replaced laughter and joy. happiness can not be sustained outside the pastoral, strong beliefs

Introduction: Little lamb: By the stream Nurses Song- free with nature, pastoral is welcoming friendly, equal other one: no comfort in nature Echoing Green Chimney Sweeper child craves freedom, in the image of pastoral/ as pastoral landscapes destroyed hope diminishes London

Many of the poems in the Songs of Innocence, including "The Lamb," contain pastoral imagery. "Pastoral" refers to the idealized lives of merry shepherds and shepherdesses who traipse through the countryside alongside their flocks. They are connected to the land and the seasons, unlike the city dwellers who appear more frequently in the Songs of Experience. Pastoral imagery is often highly formulaic, and once you've seen one fluffy sheep resting in the dappled shade of a tall oak, you've seen them all. This poem is no exception. Still, it's hard the resist the charms of a good gurgling brook or flower-strewn meadow.

Line 1: The lamb is a classic symbol of pastoral life. Before farmers started to fence in their livestock, they would hire shepherds to lead their herds from field to field to feast on herbs and grass. The speaker of this poem may be one such young shepherd. Lines 3-4: These lines contain an implicit metaphor comparing God to a Great Big Shepherd. God is the one who gives sheep the desire to feed in the first place. Line 8: The valleys or "vales" of the country landscape are

low Eden are three lower stages. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Eden. Perfect union Beulah. A happy place of innocence. No experience of "contraries." Pastoral setting. Generation. The realm of normal human experience, suffering, & clashing contraries. Ulro. Hell. Bleak rationality, tyrrany, static negation, and isolated Selfhood. Blake employs the image of the lamb, an ancient symbol of gentleness and humility, contrasting it with the tyger stalking its prey. The lamb, with "wooly bright" clothing, plays in the pastoral setting of stream, mead, and vales. The stream, mead (meadow, pasture) and vales are images we see in Psalm 23, a likely source for Blake. 6. Psalm 23 7. 1 8. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 9. 2 10. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 11. 3 12. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 13. 4 14. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 15. Blake sanitizes "the valley of the shadow of death" into "Making all the vales rejoice!" There is no such valley in Beulah, the pastoral world. With innocence portrayed this way, no wonder Blake considered experience to be necessary.
The representation of children in The Echoing Green portrays this innocence through recognisable conventions. Pastoral imagery features strongly, with the village green shown to be the centre of community life. The children are unrestricted and follow the natural rhythm of life, ceasing their play at dusk. The overall impression created is that of a strong connection between childhood and nature, supported by the simile comparing children to birds in their nest (ln 27). However, on closer reading there are hints of disharmony. The effect of industry is addressed in lines 6-8: The birds of the bush, Sing louder around, To the bells cheerful sound. As suggested by Brown, the birds must raise their volume to compete with these man-made noises. In addition, the description of the green as Echoing, suggests a distortion of the pastoral idyll. Rudd states the poem speaks of a shallow representation of the past, almost as a shadow of a former glory which does not feel full bodied to re-create present day reflections over a fondly remembered youth.

In Songs of Innocence, Blake uses pastoral imagery to describe innocence as state of being characterized by faith, love, joy, happiness and togetherness. To illustrate this notion of innocence, Blake

provides the reader with images of a loving, ever-present God and a healthy, natural, green world, both of which are connected to and deeply affect man in an entirely positive way. Blake then twists these two images, of God and nature to describe experience. To Blake, experience is a state of mind in which innocence is lost and the world is dominated by little more than sorrow, despair, anger and faithlessness. In these poems, God is no longer loving and protective, but is instead now cold and uncaring, and the once nurturing, healthy earth is now a land of decay. In experience, the use of these two images as positive forces on humanity is abolished and replaced with the idea that that these two actually have a direct hand in the plight of man. In essence, innocence is lost through experience. As has been stated, a major theme in Songs of Innocence is the

'The Echoing Green\' is a clear representation of a pastoral idyll where a community meets on the green. The green here represents the idea of a \'common\' where everyone owned the land, along with the echoing sense of community. The reason that this poem is placed in \'Song\'s of innocence\' rather than \'experience\' is clear due to \'Old John with white hair\'. In \'Experience\' Old John would not appear wise, but his age would bare the burden of experience. Instead, here, Old John bares resemblance to the classical pastoral figure of a shepherd, a protective figure who is not restrictive but a man who \'does laugh away care\'. The oak that they sit under represents England, and the community values within this pastoral society. This is furthered by the form of the poem, it is lyrical in nature with rhyming couplets which add to the sense of community as it is a poem for all to use. It is a clear representation of Blake\'s pastoral idyll. Having not actually left London, this \'green\' is Blake\'s idea of Arcadia. Although placed in Innocence, the poem is a progression from innocence to experience seen through the progression from light to dark - \'The sun does arise\' to \'the darkening green\'. When the sun is up, there are \'merry bells\' and sports on the green, but the last stanza pictures a \'darkening green\' thus adding a sense of danger, as sport is \'no more seen\'. This darkness is the introduction to a life of experience.

Frye explains that Songs of Innocence descends from pastoral convention with its "vision of a simplified rural existence." He also suggests satiric possibilities in pastoral as it "points up the artificiality of the court or city that it leaves behind." These ideas seem to be pertinent when considering the "Nurse's Song" in Innocence as satiric pastoral. In 1959, Robert Gleckner describes the nurses in "Nurse's Song" and in "The Ecchoing Green" as protective figures. He further explains in The Piper and the Bard that the nurse in Innocence is "a variant of the protective mother of Beulah." The nurse in Innocence protects the children from the terrors of the "night of innocence" which result from children being separated from their parents.

Imagery and symbolism


The green - Blakes symbolic village green has three, inter-linked aspects: The colour green is associated with growth, fertility and spring Village greens were places of play and freedom. They represented the importance of play and, therefore, of imagination in human life.

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Village greens were not owned by anyone. They were common land. They, therefore, represented another kind of freedom freedom from the rule or demands of a landowner or authority figure. They were the opposite of chartered towns which were under the authority of its officials.

Using this image emphasises the freedom and play which is at the centre of this poem and suggests, too, the inner freedom of the nurse. She seems in harmony with all that is growing and playful. The Nurse - The image of the nurse is used to represent the caring and nurturing capacity within human beings. This can be used to protect the freedom of what is carefree, innocent and vulnerable. When this is so, the nurse or care-giver delights in their charge and has no desire to repress or rule. But this capacity can also be distorted into a desire to control what is carefree and vulnerable. Fading light Unlike The Ecchoing Green, the darkness appears much earlier in Nurses Song. The children focus only on making the most of the daylight. However, the nurse is aware of the threat that lurks in darkness (the dews of night arise seems unhealthy) and the need to be responsible in terms of the day to come. That the children desire to play as the light fades could symbolise their developing maturity and fading innocence. The Nurses acquiescence can be variously interpreted as: A wise realisation that the children need to learn to cope in the dark

Permission to play as long as possible is a way of extending her charges innocence given the inevitability of darkness / experience

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Her continuing pastoral care An abdication of responsibility.

Echoing Green (Spring)


Spring - Blake uses the image of spring because of its associations with growth and fertility. Spring is also the season for the birth of animals, for the appearance of flowers after winter, for birdsong. All of these represent what is natural, new and uncorrupted. They therefore suit the expression of innocence.