It’s Blake’s world encroach on childhood and

It’s hard to believe a christian and an atheist would have anything in common or even share values, but they do when it comes to the philosopher Nietzsche and the poet and artist William Blake. Blake was an unorthodox writer  who with some leading profound thinkers of his day stood in defiance of 18th century neoclassical culture. He privileged fantasy and imagery over reason in creation of both his poetry art. The parallels and affiliations within their work can be seen in Nietzsche’s ” Three Metamorphoses” and William Blake’s collection of poems titled, “Songs of Innocence and Experience.” I ask the reader to bear with me as I uncover the art and poems of William Blake including “The Chimney Sweep”, Nurse’s Song”, ” Tyger” and  “Spring”. I will look at Nietzsche’s three metamorphoses for human growth with use of the camel, the lion, and the child. This exploration of art and philosophy will attempt to show Blake and Nietzsche are not as foreign as one may believe. Their poetic and philosophical vision carries curious comparisons and affiliations into the development of human growth stages.     ” Songs of Innocence and Experience” is an illustrated assortment  of poems by William Blake. They are definitions of cognizance that reassess John Milton’s existential and mythic states of what “paradise” and the “fall” is. Blake categorizes our perception of what is now standard in romanticism. Blake’s poems also have a sense of the development in human growth, how we as humans start in innocence and end in the state of experience. Childhood is often an state of protected innocence in Blake’s world rather than what we call original sin. Childhood in Blake’s world though is imperfect and not immune to the failed world and institutions in life. Certain experiences in Blake’s world encroach on childhood and turn the innocence of childhood into what is known and seen through experience. Experience is a state of childhood loss by corruption and by the social and political factors. Childhood is also corrupted by oppression by the church, state, and ruling classes. This duality of innocence and experience is seen in Blake’s poem “The Chimney Sweeper.” The first poem in innocence primarily focuses on the character Tom Darce. Tom is a child who is conscripted  into a life of misery and corruption as a young boy and chimney sweeper. The poem starts off talking about the miserable and intolerable conditions of being a young boy and a chimney sweeper. As the poem continues  Tom sees an angel in his dream who then relinquishes the boys from their jobs or “black coffins” and the young boys are free to do what they want. “Then down in a green plain leaping laughing they run and wash In a river and shine in the sun. Then naked and white, all their bags left behind. They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. The angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, he’d have god for his father and never want joy.”Tom then awakens from his dream elated and alive that he saw the angel and goes to his duties and looks to the other boys who have stayed in their jobs. Tom feels inspired after seeing the angel because he has witnessed the imagination of the angel and now sees things in a new light. This is personified through Blake’s art in which he uses bright colors and whimsical illustrations of children on the bottom of poem. The illustrations are somewhat in the direct correlation of the poem. However, the ” Chimney Sweeper” in “Songs of Experience” is vastly different. The boy in experience appears stuck in his lot in life and stays in the cruel conditions that he is subjected to and uses illusionary deception to make himself feel as though he is happy. This example is seen in the second stanza in the poem. “Because I was happy upon the hearth and smiled among the winter’s song. They clothed me in the clothes of death and taught me to sing the notes of woe.”      The boy in the second poem takes on the burdens of society and the class that he has been born into. He puts himself into a deception of happiness to cure the realities of the cruel world of being a chimney sweeper. The child also never complains in the poem that he is unhappy, it could be inferenced that he takes on the burdens of the world.      Another character which has the same duality of innocence and experience is nurse in Blake’s poem ” Nurse’s Song.” The nurse in the poem is a gentle and kind figure, hearing the voices of she exclaims just how happy that she is. The scene is set in a utopian pastoral setting to where she is the protective and loving mother like figure towards the children in this poem. The children see that the sun is setting as she calls them in and they refuse, pleading with her that they want to continue their bountiful and pleasurable day. The poem is a simple illustration of the innocence and love for a child. “When the voices of the voices of the children Are heard on the green, and the laughing is heard on the hill, My heart is at rest within my breast and everything else is still.” Blake illustrates this visually by again using bright colors that paint over the landscape. Blake’s use of foliage suggests that things are bountiful and plenty. On the bottom of the page there are illustrations of children playing and a young woman who has a child on her lap, assuming that this figure is the nurse. Blake uses illustration to evoke the story of his poem and lends itself to visual analysis. Subsequently, in the second nurse’s song in experience is quite different. We do not get the same feeling of folly and loving behavior, instead we have someone who is the exact opposite. “The voices of children are heard on the green And whisp’ring are in the dale. The days of My youth rise fresh in my mind, my face green and pale.” The significance of green in the poem is evident an symbolic, green is the color of the deadly sin, envy. The nurse is not only envious of the days when she was young but holds burden that she can no longer run, move, and play like she used to when she was a child. She can no longer attain youthful status, those days to her are clearly out of reach. In the end of the poem she states to the children that they one day will be burdened by the thought and effects of death coming for them. The turn from innocence to experience is apparent as we see the character of the nurse before and after her fall. Which we could interpret as her gradual growth in human development.     “Tyger” is another character of William Blake’s defined by the rebellious spirit. The poem not only defies man but also tricks and defies the very audience which it tries to capture, the reader. The poem demands the reader’s attention by asking them questions that the reader cannot answer. As the poem continues the question mark in one’s head grows larger and larger as the reader desperately seeks to try and find answers. “Tyger, Tyger, burning bright, in the forest of the night, What immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful Symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies, burnt the Fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire?What the hand, dare seize the fire? The tyger initially appears to be quite the sensuous beast as the poem illustrates and describes the tyger in questions. On further analysis the tyger becomes less of an alluring image and more of a symbolic character who comes to embody a more spiritual presence. The Tyger is a fearsome beast who is deemed to be filled with malice and evil. The poem inspects how could anyone make such a creature, one who defies all moral expectations and has such great and will of determination. The tyger is an animal of experience and insufficient moral code, this is in contrast to the sister poem of Blake’s called ” The Lamb.”      The last poem of Blake’s is called “Spring.” This song and poem is about affirmation. A little boy and a little girl are enjoying “god’s” pleasures in the pastoral countryside. Blake in his poem implies about renewal and regeneration. “Little lamb, here I am, come and lick my white neck, Let me pull your soft wool, let me kiss your soft face,merrily, merrily we welcome in the new year.”In the poem the little boy and the little girl are both embodied to be the renewal and regeneration that is implied in his poem. The mother is a symbol of the year passing and the children are again another symbol of the years to come. They are the future. This is reinforced through the imagery as we see small children playing at the bottom of the page with the mother caring for them. We also see this regenerative Christ like figure as a baby on the second page of the poem who is by a sheep. The poem itself is one of rebirth and renewal, considering that the poem is set in the season of spring.     Unlike Blake who uses poetry, song, and illustration to depict human growth stages, The philosopher Nietzsche uses methodical stages to represent how us humans grow. Nietzsche breaks down the human condition in three stages, the camel, the lion, and the child. All of these stages must be overcome in order to reach the peak of human capability called the “overman” The “overman” or “superman” justifies the human race. The overman can literally overcome not only himself but human nature. In order for that to be fulfilled the individual must overcome stage one the camel. Nietzsche explains the camel in his first stage of the metamorphosis. ” What is difficult? Asks the spirit that would bear and knee is downLike a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult? O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much, that I may take It upon myself and exult in my strength.” The camel greets life head on and embraces difficulties in life and takes them as a sense of duty. A camel carries various things on its back in the desert, it often burdens itself with life and situations which are presented to them. The camel is humbled and strengthened. Only through suffering these challenges does the came gain strength and resilience necessary to attain the next spiritual level. The next level of spiritual enlightenment is the lion.     The lion is a symbol of courage, tenacity, and authority that requires rejection in life. ” Here the spirit becomes a lion who would conquer his freedom and be Master in his own desert. Here he seeks out his last master: he wants to fight Him and his last god.” The lion is able to utter the word “no”, which represents the rejection of all external control and traditional values. Everything that is imposed by other individual, society, churches, governments, families, and all forms of propaganda must be denied in an empowered roar. The lion does not burden himself by the external pressures in life but takes control of his own desert or forest. The lion has courage and the will to take burdens off of himself. The lion has learned to take control of himself and his life without the needs and pressures from others.    The third and final spiritual level is the child. The child unlike the lion delivers the sacred “yes.” the child affirms the moment, affirms uncertainty and the flux of life. The child becomes a self propelled wheel, just as life can be viewed in the same terms. The child elects to roll with life, dance and play with it. “But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion Could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child ?The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a gameOr self propelled wheel, a first movement, a scared “yes”For the game of creation, ny brothers, a sacred “yes” is needed The spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been Lost to the world now conquers his own world.”For Nietzsche the child represents a state of play. When one can achieve a state of play and have creation and imagination than one can make their own will and virtues. Becoming the child is the last stage of spiritual enlightenment and achieving the overman. These themes are not only seen in Nietzsche’s philosophy but can also be seen in the works and poems of William Blake’s.     The first poem in which you can see the work of Nietzsche is “The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake.  Instead of starting with innocence as Blake has done, Nietzsche stars with experience as embodied with the chimney sweeper. The children in both poems are forced into a life of misery and bad health being chimney sweepers in London and having to clean fireplaces in people’s homes. The chimney sweeper is the victim to the world, he takes on the burdens of others. The chimney sweeper takes on the problems of the world that he was thrusted into. The camel is clearly seen in the illustrations of experience by Blake. Instead of being full of vibrant color, the illustration is devoid and grey just like the soot that they boys must clean. The chimney sweeper is seen to be walking alone and slightly hunched over, the posture of someone who has clearly been beaten down and worked. The child though in the poem does not complain and simply just does his job. The chimney sweeper is essentially a camel in the desert unable to find its way home. ” And because I am happy and dance and sing. They think they have Done me no injury, and are gone to praise god and his priest and king, Who made up heaven of our misery.”The second poem that embodies the same character of the camel is ” Nurse’s Song.”  The nurse in the poem has stepped into the waters of memory. She is constantly reminded of the days in which she was young and and full of happiness as a young adult and child. Memory to her is a burden and something which she carried on her back. She feels sick in the fact that she can never go back to the days when she was young again. The second stanza in the poem reinforces this thesis of the nurse. “Then come home my children the sun is gone, down and the dews Of night arise, your spring and your day are wasted in playAnd your winter and night in disguise.” The illustrations also reinforce the poem in a creepy and sinister like way. The Nurse of experience is seen to be combing a child’s hair. The child looks at us directly as the nurse attends her work. All around them are leaves, some are in healthy shape as some are decaying. This is reinforcing the fact that the nurse is reminding the children that they are young now but they will soon get old and die too. The nurse carries death and the fear of dying like a camel, she takes in all the external pressures and places them on herself.     The camel now has reached the second level of the spirituality stage and is now is the lion. This is represented by the poem “Tyger.” Both animals are symbols of defiance and rebellion. The lion rejects all the “thou shalts” and commandments of the world just as the tyger does in the poem. The tyger rejects the man which puts all of societies fear and romanticism in him. Both creatures have also great will and determination in them. They are figure which conquer their own freedom and and become masters of their own forest, they have successfully moved away from the harsh conditions of the desert and into the lush forests in which they can conquer their own. The weight of budens has now been casted down into a deep roar of defiance. This is also reinforced by the illustration of Blake. In his poem we see the the tyger in his natural state, with clear skies and trees around him. On the bottom of the illustration is the lion himself. He stands with his eyes wide open, looking and ready to attack. He stands strong and resilient to anyone who comes near him. He no longer needs the water from the desert. He has reached another stage of enlightenment and spirituality. In order to attain true spirituality in human growth, one must ultimately become the child.     True spirituality to Nietzsche is when one becomes the child. The last poem embodies the child both physically and symbolically. The poem “Spring” is one of rebirth and regeneration. The children welcome in the new year with life and happiness. The children are seen as a beginning and a first movement into life. They are innocence and scared, they are the future . The mother is a symbol of the year passing and the children represent of the years that are still left to come. The children are seen in the poem to be laughing, and playing together in the pleasures of the pastoral countryside. They have no burdens of the world and they can freely enjoy themselves whenever they please. They have of course achieved the child-like mind. The child mind is immersed in the moment and is filled with wonder and playfulness. The child can create its own will, it can create its own virtue, and in turn it can create its own reality and its own way to life. The illustrations that Blake did in his poem really reinforce that notion of the children creating their own future. We see a beautiful pastoral countryside, we see a mother holding her child as the other plays among the sheep and nature. They are basking in the moment, not afraid of anything that is coming their way. They have reached the ultimate goal of being the overman, one that can overcome itself. Through Blake and Nietzsche the human development stages in spirituality are explained.     Place aside the notion that Blake was a Christian and Nietzsche was an athiest. Once the barriers of religion are removed, we can see that both men had similar ideas of what Innocence and experience should look like. They understood that this transformation is one we must all go through and takes place in all of us. Both Blake and Nietzsche depict aging, sickness, decay, and the weight of the world. These themes are all something that each  one of us as humans has experienced in our lifetime. These men realized through change, perspective, and expression of vision, they could head the sacred “yes” towards life, just as the lion and the child do for the growth of the human spirit.