An Allegory on the Development of Human Communication in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence Essay

Songs of Innocence are series of poems that talk about a child-like innocence as suggested by the child’s curiosity and inquisitiveness to the piper narrator. The child asked the narrator to write him his songs that he longed and yearned to hear. He said they were merry songs and he was happy just to hear them. So the narrator complied and drafted the songs for the child (Blake 1992). On the deeper level, the series of poems suggest a blissful child’s innocence that is free from any adult world’s complications and corruptions.

On the technical level, the series of poems depict the linguistic theories that explained the origin and development of language. The Shepherd Song is about the shepherd who tirelessly follows and takes care of his shepherds (Blake 1992). It suggests loyalty in ones obligations and happiness in the fulfilment of ones responsibilities. It also can be seen as an allegory to the first theory of language origin which is the bow-wow or the cuckoo theory. This theory suggests that our first words are our attempt to imitate the sounds of non-human elements such as the animals and other noises (Harris 1996).

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In this poem, there was a mention of the “lamb’s innocent call” and the “ewe’s tender reply (Blake 1992). ” In The Infant Joy, the narrator was wondering what they should call her for she doesn’t have a name. She suggested that since she is happy, then they can call her Joy (Blake 1992). Nomenclature, in linguistics, is the naming of things according to certain standards. This passage in the poem can also be attributed to a passage in the Bible on the development of language. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, nd every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: whatsoever Adam called every living creature , that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field (qtd in Harris 1996). This suggest that the basic process is forming words in a language is to name. In this case, names or words are upon the basis of the words supposed function. In the poem, the speaker connected her being happy to the name that she wished people would call her, that is Joy.

This is related to the naming process explained herein. Lastly, the series of poems talks not only about how children learn the basics and complexities of life but also how they acquire their knowledge of the world through language. As suggested in the poem, it is said that they learn from the world around them, by observing, by imitating, by copying, and by appreciating every bit and parcel of the world. The lambs, the shepherds, the nurses, the schools, the springs, the nights, the blossoms. Learning language is the same as learning life.


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