Infant Joy - Imagery, symbolism and themes

Imagery and symbolism

BabyInfant – Contemporary attitudes to children varied:

I have no name; / I am … I happy am – some critics see this as a reference to God. In the Old Testament account of Moses' meeting with God, Exodus 3:13-14 Moses asks God's name and gets the response I am. Since Jesus claims this reference for himself in the New Testament John 8:58, the poem could refer to the birth of Christ which is associated with joy in the biblical accounts.

Investigating imagery and symbolism

  • How do you respond to the image of the baby here?


The nature of the child and the liberation/suppression of imagination/childhood

Is the child born free and good, as Rousseau believed, or born depraved, as the Calvinist Christians believed? Or is this opposition the result of fallen human beings' inability to recognise that the capacity for good and evil both belong to humanity?

Blake saw the natural child as an image of the creative imagination which is the human being's spiritual core. He was concerned about the way in which social institutions such as the school system and parental authority, crushed the capacity for imaginative vision. The child's capacity for joy and play are expressions of this imagination.

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