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by William Blake

London Theme of Innocence

Now hold on just a second. "London" is from Blake's Songs of Experience, not Songs of Innocence, right? Yep—which is why innocence is a major theme. Huh? Well, we don't mean innocence so much as the ways in which people have their innocence taken away (mostly infants and children). This poem is also interested in guilt, too. The church and the government, for example, should be innocent of wrongdoing but, strangely, are guilty of taking innocence away from children and infants. Sheesh.

Questions About Innocence

  1. Once innocence is taken away, can it ever be restored? How might the speaker answer this question? 
  2. Are the tears of the infant in the last stanza innocent? Why or why not?
  3. What is the harlot guilty of, if anything? Why do you think so?
  4. Why is this poem in Songs of Experience, do you think?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Innocence? What innocence? In the London described in "London," there is no such thing as innocence anymore.

This poem cannot describe innocence because the speaker himself is not innocent. He's a dude that clearly has some experience of the world.

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