William Blake was born in London in 1757. His origins were humble and he remained poor all his life. He witnessed the evil effects of industrial evolution on man's soul and he thought that the artist should have a new role: he should become the guardian of the spirit and imagination. The most important literary influence was the Bible because it presented a complete vision of the world.
When he was ten years old his father sent him at a drawing school, where he acquired the influence of Michelangelo. Painter were expected to conform to standards of realistic rapresentation and to respect proportions and perspective.
Blake broke withe these conventions and created a new kind of art wich emphasised the power of imagination.
He was a preromatic poet; he rejected the neoclassical literary style and themes.
He stressed the importance of imagination over reason and believed that ideal forms should be created not from observations of nature but from inner visions.
His poems were divided into Songs of Innocence and Songs Of Experience.
The first is in the pastoral mode; the narrator is a shephered; the imagery of the poems is full of lambs, flowers and children. It deals with childhood because he thought that the children was uncorrupted by society and still innocent.
While Songs of Innocence was produced before the outbreak of the French Revolution, Songs of Experience appeared in the period of Terror(1793-1794).
In the Songs of Experience there is a pessimistic view of life.
Blake did not reject the Songs of Innocent shephered, but he created its contrary in the form of the bardwho questions the themes of the previous collection.
These two collection of poems must be read together because "Experience
", identified with adulthood, coexists with and completes "Innocence", thus providing another point of view on reality.