William Blake compiled some of this poems into two sets: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Songs of Innocence consists of 19 poems written about idyllic scenes, happy themes, and generally child-like innocence. Songs of Experience is a parallel set of 26 poems, often about the same themes but written from the perspective of many years of experience and are often earthy, dark, and grave. These sets of poems contain some very obvious parallels; for instance, in Songs of Innoncence, one can find a pair of poems called “Little Boy Lost” and “Little Boy Found” while in Songs of Experience can be found “Little Girl Lost” and “Little Girl Found.” I chose the following five poems from the Songs of Innocence because of their clear text that I was able to construct into a loose narrative arc. The final song, “On Another’s Sorrow,” will serve as a thematic transition into the yet-to-be-written set of songs from Songs of Experience.
Sweet dreams, form a shade
O’er my lovely infant’s head!
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams!
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown!
Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
Hover o’er my happy child!
Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight!
Sweet smiles, mother’s smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes!
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.
Sleep, sleep, happy child!
All creation slept and smiled.
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o’er thee thy mother weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee!
Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
Who became an infant small;
Infant smiles are His own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles.