William Blake, born in London the 1757, was an engraver. He started writing in his late twenties, in 1789 he published the songs of innocence, and in 1794 the which he engraved himself. these are the original publications: instead of printing the book normally he engraved both the words and the pictures on copper plates with a special technique of this own called "illuminated printing".
This poem focuses on the gift of life in a newborn, and celebrates happiness. It is presented in a form of an imaginary dialogue between a mother and his newborn child who’s two days old. The mother asks the baby how he wants to be called, and he names himself Joy because joy is the only emotion he has experienced so far. The mother blesses the baby with the name Joy, and hopes that joy will always be his lot in life.
The fact that the baby names himself Joy may represent Blake’s desire to see humans determine their own state of bliss and their own destiny, not following the constrictions established by social and religious institutions.
In contrast to “Infant joy”, Blake wrote “Infant sorrow”, in which he also speaks about birth, but from an infant’s prospective, and focuses on the pain and sorrow. The poet suggests that child birth is not always joyful and happy, but can bring sorrow and pain. He seems an unwanted child, also because of the behavior of the parents: in fact his mother “groaned”, and his father “wept”.
This poem may perhaps represent Blake’s aversion to the industrial revolution , in fact in that period many factory owners exploited young women and children who worked in their factories. The child uses the past tense to describe his own birth, so he possibly has already grown up and regrets the time when he could find comfort by just laying on his mother’s breast.
But the poem can also be considered as symbolic: the fact that the child tries to escape from the cloth in which he is wrapped may represent the attempt of rebelling against institution’s oppressions and the final moment of acceptance and surrender.