Songs of Experience
"The night is worn..." by Celia Levetus


Songs of Experience
by William Blake, with designs by Celia Levetus
(Nutt, 1902)

Unlike Celia Levetus’s earlier works that focused on children and nature, her illustrations of Blake’s The Songs of Experience employ a greater use of symbolism. Snakes appear in many of these images, evoking the devil or sin. In illustrations for the title page and ‘London’, the snake seems to be tightening itself around the image, creating a sense of constriction. The dark illustration for ‘London’ particularly conveys the idea that the city has become a bleak, destructive place, and the snake seems to be reinforcing this by showering the city in venom. In the title image the winged woman, perhaps an angel, provides a balance between good and evil, but her resigned demeanour suggests that evil is still in control.

Levetus’s focus on deep black shading and fine lines, as well as her use of religious symbolism, add a sinister tone to the illustrations, which directly reflect the conflict and suffering which Blake expresses in his poetry.

Caption by Sophie Duncan

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Timeline of Events Associated with Songs of Experience


  • Celia Levetus

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