Neoplatonism in Blake’s "Songs of Innocence and of Experience"

Martina Zamparo (Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, Università degli Studi di Udine)


The aim of this essay is to demonstrate that William Blake’s collection Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul (1789-1794) can be read in the light of Neoplatonism. From this perspective, Innocence and Experience are not completely opposed but, rather, intertwined in a more complex and fascinating way. As the human soul experiences a rebirth after its descent in the so-called world of generation, so man can be born again, in a higher and purer form, after his immersion in the world of Experience. According to this reading, based on the Eleusinian Mysteries and Plotinus’s and Porphyry’s works, Blake’s aim is not to recover the world described by the Songs of Innocence, because the real Innocence he alludes to is the spiritual and moral wisdom man will achieve after his journey through the two stages of existence.

DOI: 10.4424/lam42015-4


William Blake; Songs of Innocence and of Experience; Neoplatonism; Classical presence; Compared literatures.

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