The William Blake Blog

Global Blake: In Conversation with Ines Tebourski
Ines Tebourski discusses Symmetry/Assymetry in Blake’s Companion Poems.

Symmetry/Assymetry in Blake’s Companion Poems

This conversation proposes a new duality into Blake’s system of dualities. While Blake’s dualities are seen, in the Songs, as a major part of his symmetrical vision of the world, there are hidden traces of ‘asymmetry’ that suggest another perspective from which these Songs can be approached. The “fearful symmetry” of Blake’s works was explored most deeply in Northrop Frye’s groundbreaking work Fearful Symmetry which focused mainly on Blake’s “prophetic books,” as well as Roman Jacobson’s article “The Verbal Art of William Blake and Other Poet-Painters” which investigated Blake’s “Infant Sorrow.” This presentation seeks to show how Blake’s symmetry is coupled with hidden ‘asymmetrical’ features that are to be approached through the “companion poems” which are in themselves part of Blake’s “dualities.” They are called “companion poems” as a reference to the fact that selected poems in Innocence have their counterpart in Experience. The symmetrical structure of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, which is built mainly around the dialectical relation between innocence and experience and their related notions, fails to satisfy all the features of this symmetrical relation in various instances. These symmetrical/ asymmetrical paradigms are to be studied through “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” in addition to “Nurses Song” of Songs of Innocence and that of Songs of Experience with the aim of laying bare the poetic and the iconic asymmetrical patterns within their seemingly symmetrical paradigms.