Redemption In Blake's And Baudelaire

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In both Blake’s poem To Tirzah, found in his Songs of Experience, and Baudelaire’s poem Obsession, found in The Flowers of Evil, there is a recurring theme of redemption portrayed through religious imagery. In To Tirzah, the speaker addresses a woman, most probably named Tirzah, talking about sin and relating this to the contrast between his mortality and religiosity. In Obsession, the speaker addresses nature, speaking to the woods, the ocean, and the night, comparing them to the divine. Therefore, both Blake’s and Baudelaire’s poems juxtapose the mortal and spiritual through alluding to religious imagery and texts. Despite this, they reach vastly different conclusions concerning redemption. While the questioning of the contrast between man’s…show more content…
In the second stanza of Blake’s To Tirzah, the speaker makes a reference to the original sin as committed by Adam and Eve. Saying that they originally were doomed to die, “mercy changd [sic] Death into Sleep”, which is a reference to the creation of mortality. While Adam and Eve were punished for their sin, they only received a punishment they could atone. Therefore, although mortality is born from sin, there is a possibility of being awakened from the punishment. This could be a reference to the Christian notion of the Last Judgment. This analysis complements the previous stanza in which the speaker questions his mortality if he, despite dying, one day will “rise from Generation free”. In the final stanza, the speaker parallels the question posed in the first stanza through stating that “The Death of Jesus set me free/Then what have I to do with thee?”. This highlights the speaker’s overarching concern for mortality, religiosity and sin. Once again, he asks what he has to do with Tirzah, representing the mortality that is born from the original sin, if the death of Jesus set him free from this through redeeming mankind. Through relating mortality, as it was created by the original sin committed by Adam and Eve, to both the Last Judgment and the Jesus’ sacrifice for man’s redemption, it could be argued that the speaker establishes that he…show more content…
As evidenced in the paragraphs above, the speaker in Blake’s poem To Tirzah believes in redemption, while the speaker in Baudelaire’s Obsession cannot find it. A larger implication that can be drawn from this difference is that while To Tirzah establishes some kind of belief in God through reaffirming the possibility of redemption, Obsession rejects religion based on the darkness that the speaker is left with. Therefore, the techniques that both Blake and Baudelaire use reveal the temperament and underlying values of the poems. The tone and mood of To Tirzah is dark, as the opening line creates a pensive, foreboding image of death. The tone of Obsession, however, is filled with anger, culminating in a sense of melancholic disappointment. Relating this to the broader themes of Songs of Experience and The Flowers of Evil as a whole, To Tirzah exemplifies Blake’s experience and Obsession epitomises Baudelaire’s spleen. Experience in To Tirzah and the Songs as a whole means a loss of innocence, while spleen in both Obsession and other works of Baudelaire is a sense of enmity. The technical differences and underlying values therefore add to both poems’ overarching attitudes toward mortality and sin, and contribute to the ultimate belief, or lack thereof, in religion and
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