Songs of Innocence and of Experience Summary and Analysis

"Infant Sorrow"

Buy Study Guide

Summary

The companion poem to “Infant Joy,” this brief piece focuses on the pain and tribulation accompanying childbirth, but from the infant’s perspective. He finds himself “helpless” and “naked,” but also describes himself as a “fiend hid in a cloud,” suggesting future harms he may perpetrate. To the infant fresh from the safety of his mother’s womb, there is no comfort in the father’s arms, so he settles for sulking at his mother’s breast.

Analysis

"Infant Sorrow" follows the Innocence rhyme scheme AABB for its two brief stanzas. The first quatrain and half of the second include words full of energy, such as "groaned," "leapt," "piping," "Struggling," and "Striving," while the last couplet gives up in defeat with the words "Bound," "weary," and "sulked." The lively child has given way to a tired, world-weary infant in mere moments.