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Four Zoas, The (excerpt) Analysis

Author: Poetry of William Blake Type: Poetry Views: 844

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1.1"What is the price of Experience? do men buy it for a song?

1.2Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price

1.3Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children.

1.4Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,

1.5And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain.

1.6It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun

1.7And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn.

1.8It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,

1.9To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,

1.10To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season

1.11When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs.

1.12It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements,

1.13To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;

1.14To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast;

1.15To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house;

1.16To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, and the sickness that cuts off his children,

1.17While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door, and our children bring fruits and flowers.

1.18Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill,

1.19And the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in the field

1.20When the shatter'd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead.

1.21It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:

1.22Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me."

2.1"Compel the poor to live upon a crust of bread, by soft mild arts.

2.2Smile when they frown, frown when they smile; and when a man looks pale

2.3With labour and abstinence, say he looks healthy and happy;

2.4And when his children sicken, let them die; there are enough

2.5Born, even too many, and our earth will be overrun

2.6Without these arts. If you would make the poor live with temper,

2.7With pomp give every crust of bread you give; with gracious cunning

2.8Magnify small gifts; reduce the man to want a gift, and then give with pomp.

2.9Say he smiles if you hear him sigh. If pale, say he is ruddy.

2.10Preach temperance: say he is overgorg'd and drowns his wit

2.11In strong drink, though you know that bread and water are all

2.12He can afford. Flatter his wife, pity his children, till we can

2.13Reduce all to our will, as spaniels are taught with art."

3.1The sun has left his blackness and has found a fresher morning,

3.2And the mild moon rejoices in the clear and cloudless night,

3.3And Man walks forth from midst of the fires: the evil is all consum'd.

3.4His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night and day;

3.5The stars consum'd like a lamp blown out, and in their stead, behold

3.6The expanding eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds!

3.7One Earth, one sea beneath; nor erring globes wander, but stars

3.8Of fire rise up nightly from the ocean; and one sun

3.9Each morning, like a new born man, issues with songs and joy

3.10Calling the Plowman to his labour and the Shepherd to his rest.

3.11He walks upon the Eternal Mountains, raising his heavenly voice,

3.12Conversing with the animal forms of wisdom night and day,

3.13That, risen from the sea of fire, renew'd walk o'er the Earth;

3.14For Tharmas brought his flocks upon the hills, and in the vales

3.15Around the Eternal Man's bright tent, the little children play

3.16Among the woolly flocks. The hammer of Urthona sounds

3.17In the deep caves beneath; his limbs renew'd, his Lions roar

3.18Around the Furnaces and in evening sport upon the plains.

3.19They raise their faces from the earth, conversing with the Man:

3.20"How is it we have walk'd through fires and yet are not consum'd?

3.21How is it that all things are chang'd, even as in ancient times?"


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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William Blake was a British author, painter, engraver, myth-maker and visionary. Blake was the earliest, the most independent and one of the representatives of the pre-romanticism period which appeared in the latter half of eighteenth century marking a decline of the classicism in England. Romantic Revival; strong protest against the bondage of classicism; claims of passion and emotion; renewed interests in medieval literature are the features of the “Pre-Romantic”. Blake did not fully apply the themes of the Romanticism; as he was the pioneer and the transition figure from classicism that is all about reason, about the style and form regardless the content, to the Romanticism which is a freedom of that reason and over flow of emotion was domination the poets in the 18th century. Blake addresses the contrast of different states of the human mind in his works “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience” in order to show how each relies upon the other to benefit progression humanity. Blake, in his poems, depends on the mysterious symbolisms which allow many and variety of interpretations for each.
“Songs of Experience” is a much mature work in which Blake addresses his loss of “faith in the mankind” caused by the effect of the French revolution. “Songs of Experience” illustrate how the child more aware of him now and begins development into maturity and individuality. The songs of Experience work via parallel and contrasts to lament the ways in which the harsh experience of adult life destroy what is good and innocent, while also articulating the weaknesses of the innocent perspectives. Blake is calling to stop resisting and accept that we’re all going to develop at some point.
Blake almost usually chooses the title which gives the reader a hint of what is coming up; also we can speculate the main theme. For example: “The price of Experience”, through the title we can learn that Blake is going to tackle the theme of experience, and we can figure out that the price of experience is the fall of innocence if we’re first au courant of his woks “Songs of innocence”. Blake indicates that innocence is the foundation upon which experience is built, yet we do not know what the actual price is until we read the poem.
“The Price of Experience” is a poem from “The Four Zoas”. The Four Zoas are the four divisions of humanity: Reason, Emotion, Senses, and Energy. The whole poem is structured into nine nights and the title comes from the “Night Two”.
The poem presents unusual interpretative problems and its formal literary structure remains an unsolved critical difficulty. Blake believed the fall of man was not caused by sin against God but man’s awareness of the four different aspects and the conflict between them. In Vala, the Four Zoas, the idea of ‘Without contraries there is no progression’ is further developed. Blake believed that He believed there can be no life without the dynamic tension of contraries. For example: Reason-imagination, imagination-Sense, good-Evil, love-Hate, but if one side overwhelms the other, the required tension is lost and everything falls apart.
In the first stanza Blake frequently used rhetorical questions and symbols as well.

| Posted on 2013-05-07 | by a guest

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