A Serious Proposal to the Ladies

How is the theme infant joy brought in infant joy?

infant joy by William Blake

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Another simple song celebrating happiness, this poem focuses on the gift of life in a newborn baby. Only two days old, the baby is asked, presumably by its mother, what name it wants. The baby names itself Joy, for that is all it knows. The mother then happily blesses the baby Joy, with the hope that joy will indeed be its lot in life.


This simple poem is two stanzas of six lines each. The two stanzas each follow an ABCDDC rhyme scheme, a contrast to most of Blake's other poetic patterns. The rhyming words are always framed by the repetition of "thee" at the end of the fourth and sixth lines, drawing the reader's attention to the parent, who speaks, and his or her concern with the baby. The infant's words, or those imagined by the parent to be spoken by the infant, are set off with dashes at the end of each line, turning this short poem into a dialogue between parent and child regarding the naming of the baby.

That the baby names itself reflects Blake’s desire to see the human spirit determine its own state of bliss, rather than to rely upon a form of happiness imposed upon it by social constructs or religious institutions. This baby is the perfect innocent who, when left alone to determine its own nature, find joy rather than guilt or repression within.

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