Chocolate Box Notebook
Exploring the Brave New World of Childhood
Innocence



Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:
"Pipe a song about a Lamb!"
So I piped with merry cheer.
"Piper, pipe that song again;"
So I piped: he wept to hear.
"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!"
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.
"Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read."
So he vanished from my sight,
And I plucked a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

William Blake

It is not uncommon for critics to claim that William Blake's The Songs of Innocence dramatize the naive hopes and fears that inform the lives of children and trace their transformation as the child grows into adulthood." Similarly it is held that "the poems are written from the perspective of children, (see The Lamb) while others are about children as seen from an adult perspective."

However in 1947, Northrop Frye, discussed children and childhood as two components of Blake's conception of innocence. He asserts that "real children are not symbols of innocence. . . . One finds a great deal more than innocence in any child: there is childish as well as the childlike"

This Chocolate Box is dedicated to exploring childhood, checking out the classic symbols of innocence and searching for new ones.

It is more than likely a truth that childhood is a state or phase of imaginative existence, the phase in which the world of imagination is still a brave new world and yet reassuring and intelligible. If this is the case I want to learn more about the key characteristics and potentiality of this phase and use key elements to enhance my own and your creativity.

Activites

1. Take the time to create a special journal to record your findings as we explore the anatomy of childhood. But be cautioned, life for children is not all joy and innocence and we need to be prepared to look within the shadows and under stones if we are to get all the answers. Do not make the mistake of romanticising this phase and, in doing so, miss the real treasure that is to be gleaned from the exploration.

Stories from Childhood

Sparrow Girl by Aletta Mes