Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence and of Experience Summary and Analysis of "The Voice of the Ancient Bard"


Blake concludes the Songs of Experience with a poem that was originally placed in his Songs of Innocence. The Bard of the Songs of Experience’s “Introduction” returns to reassure the “youth of delight” that all is not lost. He invites the innocent one who has seen such dark visions of experience to “see the opening morn,/Image of truth new born” in which doubt and restrictive human Reason have disappeared. He then warns the youth that “folly is an endless maze” full of tangled roots that cause many to fall “over bones of the dead.”


This single-stanza poem consists of a cinquain followed by a sestet. The cinquain follows an ABBCC rhyme scheme while the sestet is AABBCC. The opening cinquain is broken into two sentences, the first calling the listening youth to the bard, and the second stating that doubt and confusion have been abolished, presumably through this series of prophetic poems. The final sestet begins with a blanket statement about the danger of Folly, while the remaining lines develop the dangers of giving in to or being drawn in by folly. Similarly to the Biblical book of Proverbs, Blake personifies Folly as female and uses the metaphor of "tangled roots" to point out the traps that she lays for the unwary. The Bard’s charge is clear: beware the pitfalls of archaic social restrictions and religious institutions that seek to “lead others when they should be led,” and instead follow the inner desire to enjoy nature and explore Imagination, and all will be well.