Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” as Want to Read:
Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  35,214 ratings  ·  723 reviews
Songs of Innocence and of Experience is an illustrated collection of poems by William Blake. It appeared in two phases. A few first copies were printed and illuminated by William Blake himself in 1789; five years later he bound these poems with a set of new poems in a volume titled Songs of Innocence and of Experience Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.
Paperback, 56 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by (first published 1794)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  35,214 ratings  ·  723 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Truth seekers
“Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?”

Out of all the poetry I have read, these four lines are amongst my favourite. They have stuck with me over several years and seem to resonate within me. I’ve even considered having them tattooed onto my arm. Why these lines? You may ask.

It’s simple really: they say so much. Different readings can be made here, but the one I see most strongly is man talking to nature. Man questions it; he asks if he is the same as nature and if nature is t
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
I have to admit that I rarely read poetry, not because I don’t want to but mostly because my library usually doesn’t have the kind of poetry that I long for. So imagine my surprise when I found this little new gem in between one of my beloved and already so very familiar bookshelves.

It was love at first sight and I don’t regret anything. <3

”O Rose, thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does th
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
I don’t think I would dare give any collection of poems that contains the above lines anything less than five stars. Luckily, although every poem isn’t a winner for me (cough*Laughing Song*cough), there are so many immortal poems in this collection that I don’t feel the least bit guilty for giving the collection the full five stars. I started collecting some of my favorite lines
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Billy Blake Who Made Thee?


Poet Poet, burning bright,
In the stanzas of the night;
What romantic coquetry,
Could frame thy fearful poetry?

In what distant when or whys,
roll'd the epic of thine eyes?
On wet verse dare he aspire?
What poet's hand, robs Shelly's pyre?

And what meter, & what art,
Could twist the cadence of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread iambs? & what dread feet?

What the motif? what the type,
In what belly was thy gripe?
What the image? what simile,
Dare its
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those in need of a peaceful place to breathe.
Shelves: poetry
...Folly is an endless maze;
Tangled roots perplex her ways;
How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead;
And feel — they know not what but care;
And wish to lead others, when they should be led.

- William Blake, "The Voice of the Ancient Bard"

The smile of a child. The face of a lamb. The purity of maternal love. Solidarity. These are images chosen by Blake to convey his thoughts on innocence. When I think of innocence, I cannot help picturing in my head the greenest mead
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well, one lousy review can't do Blake's poems any justice, not unless you're flush with time and the soul of a poet, yourself. :)

I can say, however, that the title kinda gives the whole gig away. :) The first section is rife with allusions to Jesus and the second is full of wry and rather sarcastic religious revolutionary insights that I *clearly* appreciate much more than the innocent ones. :)

Yes, love should be shown! No, life should not be this dreary and repressed thing. :)

I particularly l
Michael Finocchiaro
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I adore William Blake's poetry and this illustrated collection is fantastic. Unlike other British poets from centuries back (like John Donne for example), his text is usually far easier to read even without a thesaurus and always delightful and full of imagery. a Must!
Lit Bug
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: british, poetry
My first brush with Blake was through the impeccable poem London more than a decade back. Since then, I'd got to read more poems of his, all carefully chosen by the academicians, quickly putting him in my list of favorite poets. Then before I reached my twenties, I read this little collection, and liked it immensely.

Songs of Innocence was what I was looking for, with its naïve outlook on life, the idyllic pictures of innocence I was unwilling to leave behind on my trek to youth. I was enamored (
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
That moment when your favorite Tv Show makes you read Romantic poetry of the 18th century.

Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Okay. Four stars.

I've read the Songs along with a wonderful commentary by Alan Tomlinson, who juxtaposes contrary poems from Innocence and Experience and explains them in relation to one another. More on his book in a review later.

Here's what I think of the Songs:

First, a confession. I've read them out loud like an idiot, savoring the crunchy taste of consonants and breathing through the vowels, dancing with some of the poems (the pretty ones) and enjoying the high and low of raising and lower
Mike Puma
Oct 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you know who you are
A review, of sorts, may be found in Message 1.
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a required reading at English poetry seminar in college. Some parts were quite difficult for me to understand but others were very enjoyable.
Connie G
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
William Blake was an English painter and printmaker, as well as a poet and social critic. In 1789 he printed a small number of his illustrated books of poetry which were colored with paint by hand. The pages of Blake's lovely "Songs of Innocence and Experience" can be seen on the British Library's website:

The Songs of Innocence depict the world in a pure, childlike innocence. The Songs of Experience look at the world from the view of an adult who can see
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
William Blake’s short poems profess a narrative far beyond what actually exists on the page. They communicate with incredible power and economy, smashing to smithereens the false structures of existing beliefs and opinions. His poems are like gravel thrown into a pool, ripples radiating outwards indefinitely, stirring everything they touch.
The Shepherd.

How sweet is the Shepherds sweet lot,
From the morn to the evening he strays:
He shall follow his sheep all the day
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

For he hears the lambs innocent call.
And he hears the ewes tender reply.
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.



Little Fly
Thy summer’s play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush’d away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing :
Till so
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794) juxtapose the innocent, pastoral world of childhood against an adult world of corruption and repression; while such poems as “The Lamb” represent a meek virtue, poems like “The Tyger” exhibit opposing, darker forces. Thus the collection as a whole explores the value and limitations of two different perspectives on the world. Many of the poems fall into pairs, so that the same situation or problem is seen through the lens of innocence first and the ...more
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Seen in this week's Private Eye:
Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright
In the middle of the night
What on earth was going on?
Perhaps we will never know
from Songs of Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Katie Lumsden
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these, especially the way the poems pair together between the sections.
Jason Gignac

I know, I'm very purply in my prose when I talk about books, and I have a tendency to say everything is beautiful. I know this probably takes away from the impact of when I really find something life-changingly perfect. Do not let my larkety-la-ti-da writing style in reviews, however, stop you from putting down whatever you're reading, and immediately adding this precious book to the store of books you've read.

I can honestly say that, if the other things William Blake wrote are as beautiful
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
Maybe it's sacrilege, maybe it isn't, but I've never been a fan of Blake, artwork or poetry. *shrugs*

It could be b/c I studied him alongside many whom I felt were vastly superior: Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, BURNS, SCOTT (in caps b/c LOVE my Irish poets), Hopkins came a bit later and is considered Victorian, but I don't care b/c LOVE him, too . . . "The just man justices . . ."

Indeed, he does.

So yeah . . . for me, Blake doesn't measure up.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poems, classics, poetry
Full of beautiful poems which intend to express human spirit restrained by conservative rules.Besides, I could feel the burning desires the poet wanted to express.

Among the poems I appreciated :


I laid me down upon a bank,
Where Love lay sleeping;
I heard among the rushes dank
Weeping, weeping.

Then I went to the heath and the wild,
To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
And they told me how they were beguiled,
Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.

I went to the Garden of Love,
It is a mixture of the light of night and the dark of day (whatever I even mean by know what, just go fucking read this it's happy, sad, dark, weird, beautiful, and great and will take you like two hours to read at MOST).
Ravi Prakash
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Blake has always been in one of my favorite English poets. As Thomas Carlyle said, "Poetry is musical thoughts" and Blake follow this tradition. His poetry has music that soothes the heart.
"The Song of Innocence and Experience" is a very small book and can be read in just one sitting but its poetic fragrance will remain with you for a long time.
Michael P.
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
I don't get Blake's reputation. I grant the genius of “The Tyger,” but 90% of the rest of the poems in this book are doggerel. The other 10% are doggerel mixed with a good idea gone wrong or a nice line or image mixed with some very bad writing. It is hard for me to understand why anyone but a Christian fundamentalist with a taste for trite rhymes or an English lit scholar would bother. This raises the question of why Tyger is so good. My blind spot, or did Blake strike gold once with most of hi ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
William Blake, my favorite poet of all time. Always overshadowed by his fellow Romantic contemporaries, such as Wordsworth, much to my dismay and the detriment of poetry lovers everywhere.

Songs of Innocence and Experience is a must-read period, regardless of genres. Anyone with an artistic soul will only benefit from its beauty and perfection. It is truly an enriching experience.

The Chimney Sweeper is my personal favorite. I cry every time I read it without fail.
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
William Blake is my favorite poet ever. And 'London' is the best of this collection, maybe my favorite poem of all time.
This is one of the rare times in which I have to thank school.
maheen ~bookqueen~

(no more is needed to be said)
Huda AbuKhoti
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Amazing read!

You might feel a bit bored of the overly joyous innocence poems, but when you start reading the experience poems, the book becomes perfectly balanced

My favorites were of course in the experience chapter:

I loved the Clod and the Pebble It really was the ultimate poem of contrast.

'Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair.'

So sung a little clod of clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a pebb
Ayse Kelce
Nov 04, 2016 added it
Shelves: 2016, poetry
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of swee
Grace the Book Queen
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, poetry
This is more of a 3.5 stars, very interesting to see how he could take a concept and take it two completely different directions.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Waste Land and Other Writings
  • Lyrical Ballads
  • John Donne's Poetry
  • The Complete Poems
  • Collected Poems
  • The Complete Poems
  • Selected Poems, 1966-1987
  • The Rape of the Lock
  • Selected Poems
  • The Complete Poems
  • Poems and Prose
  • My Last Duchess and Other Poems
  • The Lady of Shalott
  • Personæ: The Shorter Poems
See similar books…
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts.

Blake's prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the language". His visual artistry has led one modern critic to proclaim h
“Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell's despair.” 295 likes
“I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I water'd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with my smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree.

- A Poison Tree
More quotes…