Introduction (E) - Synopsis and commentary

Synopsis of Introduction (E)

Introduction (E)

There is an invocation to listen to the Bard, a prophetic poet who is beyond time. He has witnessed the Word of God (a reference to Christ) calling to – and weeping over - the soul of fallen humanity, since he is capable of renewing the ‘light'. With this in mind, the Bard, or possibly the Holy Word, addresses the Earth, encouraging it to stir and be renewed in light and / or return to God, or its innocent state, since the ‘morn' / ‘break of day' is imminent.

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Accompanying teaching resources


Critics have disagreed on the interpretation of the Bard:

  • Some see him as a benevolent prophet, weeping over the fallen world, where the self is divided and locked in itself (see Religious / philosophical background > Blake's religious outlook). ‘Return' would then be a return to the undivided state, where there is no destructive selfconsciousness
  • Others see him as the representative of an autocratic tyrannical God. This God is jealous and possessive, wishing to have power over the earth. ‘Return' would thus mean returning to a state of subjection, bound by laws which restrict liberty and produce shame. This God, according to Blake, is a figure which a fallen, divided humanity has created for itself.

The Bard addresses the earth (from which the human being is made – see Genesis 2:7), as though it represents all fallen humanity.

More on the fall of creation: According to the Bible, the disobedience of humankind signified by Adam and Eve affected the whole of creation. The ground was cursed (Genesis 3:17-18) and everything subjected to decay and death in a way that it had not been in the Garden of Eden (Romans 8:20-22). However, this process will be reversed once humankind's relationship with God is perfectly restored and he creates a new heaven and new earth Revelation 21:1-5.

However we interpret the Bard, it is perhaps more important that we are aware of the tone of his message; he is a voice of correction, concerned with what is awry in human life. In this, he is the opposite of the child-piper in the poem Introduction in the Songs of Innocence:

  • The standpoint of innocence cannot or will not perceive what is destructive or makes it vulnerable
  • The standpoint of experience is one which focuses on what is wrong in life.

Investigating Introduction (E)

  • Compare the mood and attitude to the earth in this poem and in Introduction in the Songs of Innocence.
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