About this project

This site is a project for the University of Pittsburgh's fall semester offering of the course, Computational Methods in the Humanities. It is focused around a textual analysis of William Blake's collection of poetry Songs of Innocence and Experience.

Created in the late 18th century, Songs of Innocence and Experience is a series of printings by Blake consisting of illustration-accompanied poetry organized into two sections: Innocence and Experience. Within each section, Blake explores their titular themes as well as using them as a lens with which to view other topics and aspects of the human experience. In accordance with this style, some of the poems in the collection play off of a mirroring poem in their complementary section. For example, within the Innocence section there is poem entitled "The Lamb," which mirrors a poem contained in the Experience section entitled "The Tyger.".

It is this project's goal, in addition to offering a textual transcription of Blake's printings, to gain a better understanding of Blake's interpretation of "innocence" and "experience" through certain textual aspects of his work. We hope to accomplish this beginning with a tool for viewing each poem within the collection side-by-side while also investigating some of each poem's different properties: prevalence of certain words/phrases, word count, rhyme scheme and stanza organization, etc... In this manner, certain tendencies of each section can be derived and articulated. For example: poems in the Innocence section may gravitate towards rhyme schemes and stanza organization in line with the stereotypical nursery rhyme; poems in Experience may be generally longer than their Innocence counterparts; each section may contain greater usage of certain words respectively. We feel that in collecting elements such as these, a reader is able to come to a better understanding of Blake's idea of "innocence" or "experience" and how he applies these labels to his views on religion, sexuality, societal organization, etc.

Thank you for visiting this site, we hope it provides a comfortable and informative experience.

How to use this site

By clicking the "Poems" tab, you will find all of the poems in Blake's collection arranged in two panels for easy comparison. The poems that have corresponding matches in the other work appear as red, bolded links. Clicking one will simultaneously scroll the other panel and allow you to read both poems concurrently. You can return to the index of each side by clicking the links at the bottom of the page.

The frequency of words occuring in full text as well as individual "Songs" is displayed in the "Frequency" pages. You have the option of viewing the list alphabetically or in order of appearance. Additionally, the "Search" page is a utility tool for readers to investigate a particular word in context of the poems. For example, after reviewing the word frequency, you can search for a word of interest and find the title of the poems that contain the particular word.

Text source: Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.