Infant Joy Analysis by William Blake

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Infant Joy is taken from the collection of Songs of Innocence, and thus one can find the elements of innocence and carefree hovering in the poem. Before we adapt a critical analysis of the poem, we should know something about Blake’s theory of poetry and his religious views. This is help in better understanding of the poem.

Blake’s Poetic Theory:

Blake considers poetry as the highest level of human imagination and something that emanates straight from the heart. He doesn’t advocate the idea of putting logic in poetry. Neither he approves the thought that poetry is to please and instruct. He opposed the idea of the Neo-classical mode of putting regulation in art and gave truly to his inner vision and surrendered to his imagination.

Blake’s idea of God

Blake believes in the idea of a loving God. In many of his poems, he presents the idea that God dwells among man and the purpose of existence in joyous.

The Poem with Annotations

“I have no name:

I am but two days old.”

What shall I call thee?

“I happy am,

Joy is my name.”

Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!

Sweet Joy befall thee!

Sweet Joy I call thee:

Thou dost smile,

I sing the while,

Sweet Joy befall thee!

1) I have…old: This line is spoken by a little child who is just two days old and without a name

2) What….thee: spoken by the child’s mother

3) I…name: The baby is happy to be born on Earth and his name is Joy

4) Sweet…thee: The mother calls her child by sweet joy and bless him.

5) Sweet joy I call thee shows mother’s approval of her child’s name.

Introduction to the poem Infant Joy

The poem hardly has any content and suggests the use of repetition. However it is considered as one of the most sweet poems which aroused myriad viewpoints among the critics. The poem is basically the imaginary conversion between the mother and her unborn child. It’s been just two days the child is conceived in the mother’s womb. Mark, the child has no worldly name and associates his name to Joy. If we’re to accept this viewpoint, Blake’s inference may be to make his readers realize that the life of children is happy before and after birth.

Other viewpoints include the child being actually born, and thus a conversation between the child and the mother.


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Critical Appreciation of Infant Joy

The poem is remarkable for the expressions, although it is too less to be captured. The innocent lisping of the infant unfurls a beautiful relationship of a mother and her child.

“I happy am,

Joy is my name.”

One can get along with the theme of the poem but there is an extremely critical analysis conveyed hidden in the poem. The question is to understand the degree of happiness enjoyed by the mother and the child. Although the development of the poem is actually the imagination of the mother, yet the question

Is the child or mother happier?

In this world, human beings are born into joy! The infant stage of life is joyful. Also, giving birth to a child is a matter of great joy and delight from a mother’s end. I think Blake is able to perplex the reader by introducting the character of the new born child and the phrase, “I happy am”, and we are yet to settle with his controversial question of who is more happy, the mother or the child

The Speaker of The Poem

Whether the child is actually born or not may still be a question that only Blake can answer! However, the thought of the poem is vivid and clear. In “Infant Joy” the speaker is the mother who creates an imaginary conversation with her child. She actually speaks the words of the child herself and then provides response to that. Thus, the names the child as ‘Joy’. The feeling every mother hold at the eve of child birth or just by seeing the little angel in her lap. Blake repeats the expression, “Sweet Joy befall thee!” to intensify the mother’s care and love for the child.

Concept of the Virgin Mary

The poem can also be looked from a religious point of view. Virgin Mary was told by the angel of Annuciation that she will bear a child. The development of the poem

The poem reflects the prime thought of ‘songs of innocence’. The child manifests everything into joy. Joy is not conceived as an expression in the poem. Indeed it forms the very essence of life and integrates with our being.

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