Monday, September 15, 2014

Blue in Blake

After I read Songs of Innocence by William Blake which is a collection of poems with illustration, I found almost each illustration used blue. Blue always represents lots of meanings; it is the color of sky, the color of sea, the color of eyes. Sometimes it means freedom and happiness; sometimes it represents the sorrowful mood. Not like black or white, blue is a complicated color with too many implications. I think Blake frequently used this color should have his reason. When I read his poem, I can feel that there exists an inexplicable sadness inside this whole collection of poems. Perhaps the grief occupied Blake’s mind when he write those poems.

In “The Little Boy Lost”, the poem describe a little boy cannot follow his father’s step and he lost in the dark night. The poem is really short and simple, and I did not feel something touch my heart at the beginning. When I saw the illustration, the woods become atrocious monsters going after the little boy, he run to the light he can say in front of him, the sky above the little boy is dark blue cannot even see one star. I have to say this illustration recalled me an unpleasant experience. My family liked travel to many different places during the vocation. Once we went to a small village and there is no light during the night. I went to restroom outside of the hotel. It was a really dark night without moon and stars. I felt so scared after I came back from restroom. There was strange sound and the wind blowing. At that time I made a serious mistake that I tried to find where the strange sound came from. I looked the sky above my head and I saw a dark shadow passed the hotel in front me. I quickly run in to the hotel. I think the illustration used the dark blue as the sky increased the scared of the woods and the despair for the little boy.

In “The little Boy found”, the poem provided a warmer version compared to “The little boy lost”. The little boy was weeping, and the god showed up just like his father. He kissed the little boy and sent the boy to his mother. In the illustration, we can see a mother and a little boy in the middle of the picture. The woods become peaceful and not scared anymore. The child go back under mother’s protect. The blue still is the background of the picture, but it become lighter than “The Little Boy Lost”. Smart use color give us different feeling of the illustration.

After I read these two poems, I found an interesting question: where is the father? In the beginning of the first poem, the little boy asked “Father, father, where are you going?” It seems like a father abandoned his child, and he left his child in such a scared dark night. What kind of father will do things like this? In the second poem, father still absent and mother showed up. From the little boys version, father just disappear, he may not realized “father walk so fast” for a purpose to abandon him. Father made these two poems become a little bit sorrowful, I think it is the reason  illustration decided to use blue as background. Most of time, blue means sad in the poetry. It is belong to the cool tone, and it is the main color in the cool tone. It does not like black (despair), blue is more likely there is hope in the despair. The whole Songs of Innocence actually provided an innocent simple way to look at the world from children’s version. Blue in the illustration is a foreshadowing for the Songs of Experience.

I realized the Songs of Experience probably will give a shocked story ending for the little boy. I found it in “A Little Boy Lost”. I have to say it is a ridiculous ending. In the poem the little boy questioned himself “father, how can I love you more”. The Priest heard the child question and believed this child is a fiend. “They bound him in an iron chain, and burned him in a holy place.” The illustration is also made me feel despair. The Sky is still blue, but the fire burned the little boy. It is like a ridiculous sacrifice ceremony, crazy people watched a little boy burned to die. Maybe it is the difference between innocence and experience, the cruel inside reality and beautiful outside lie.


  1. I really liked how you compared blue and black in the 4th paragraph. I think you could expand this idea into an argument. For example, discuss how Blake used blue to represent sad situations where hope was still alive compared to instances where he used black to show complete despair. This is a very interesting idea that would be supported by many of the image-picture couplings. You could also tie the use of these colors in with the concepts of Innocence versus Experience.

    Spending more time on evidence for your argument rather than describing the images and poems could definitely strengthen your argument. I didn’t really see the connection between the last paragraph and the argument about blue. I think you could cut the last paragraph. If you revise this essay, you could use that room to talk about other examples of blue being used in the Songs of Experience.

  2. There isn't a clear argument in your first paragraph - the ideas are workable but not focused enough.

    The story you tell of childhood fright is interesting, and could certainly be used to explore "The Little Boy Lost." But the connection isn't quite working for me. Are you trying to use your experience to understand the poem, the illustration to understand the poem, or both? If both, what does using the illustration and your own experience accomplish that beyond just using one of them? What does the personal element add?

    I agree that it's interesting to ask where the father is, and to analyze the role of the father in the two poems. But to simply repeat the idea that blue is sorrowful doesn't seem like anything like a complete analysis of what the father means. If you're trying to connect the father's role to the shift in the shade of blue, that needs a little more explanation.

    I'm not really sure what you're doing when you move to "Song of Experience." It simply doesn't make sense yet. You would have been better off clarifying and developing your argument about the color blue in the initial two poems, rather than going off in another direction.

    Overall: You want to focus on clarifying your main argument. You have a number of interesting things to say, but they don't really form a single coherent whole yet.

    Katherine's feedback is excellent.