Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence and of Experience Summary and Analysis of "Introduction" (Songs of Experience)


The speaker urges his audience to listen to “the voice of the Bard!” who can see past, present, and future. In contrast to the “Introduction” for Songs of Innocence, this poem introduces a more mature and polished poetic voice in the bard. No rural shepherd converting his heart’s songs to words using merely the tools at hand, this poet has heard “the Holy Word/ that walk’d among the ancient trees.” This speaker’s poetry is characterized by direct revelation rather than by the shepherds’ inner melodies, and therefore holds the authority of both divinity and experience. However, despite the Bard’s claims to see past, present, and future, he has only heard the Word of God walking and weeping in the Garden of Eden, in the past. The Bard’s moment of divine revelation is singular, and does not continue throughout his present or into his future.


The "Introduction" is a four-stanza poem, with each stanza made up of an ABAAB rhyme scheme. The rhyme is slightly more complex than the "Introduction" to Songs of Innocence, indicating the increased sophistication the reader may expect from the Songs of Experience. The first two stanzas urge the reader to hear the voice of the "Bard," while the second two are directed at the Earth herself, calling her to return to her prior state of primordial bliss to better hear and heed the Bard/Prophet's words.

Also unlike the shepherd of Songs of Innocence, this bard is a prophet intent on calling fallen man to reclaim the world he lost to the “starry pole” of Reason. Man needs to return to his imagination and awaken from his slumber of materialism. However, the Bard’s call must often go unheeded, simply because it is impossible for his audience (in some cases Earth, in others fallen human beings) to pull themselves up out of their spiritually diseased state. While recognizing the preeminence of God and the singular potency of His will to redeem a fallen world, the Bard unfortunately slips into the error of addressing others as if they could be self-redeemed and have a choice in the matter.

The Bard’s voice differs from Blake’s own in this way: when Blake “sings” in such poems as “Holy Thursday” and “London,” he recognizes the depravity of man and nature, and the inability of both to purify themselves without divine intervention.