In “Introduction” to Songs of Innocence Blake as a poet, playing his simple and innocent music attracts the attention of a muse or spirit that appears to him as a child on a cloud. The child encourages him to play a song about a “Lamb” and being impressed with the musician asks him to dropp his pipe and write a book “that all may read”. In this way the spirit is asking Blake to share his inspiration with a wider audience, an audience that would not depend on his presence to experience the happiness his imagination can bring. Innocence suggests in this case the state of man before the “fall” from grace into the world of knowledge. The book is intended to remind readers of the joy of that innocent state. Blake is appealing to the child in everyone through his poetry.
Blake wrote this poem in a simple duple meter. The resulting rhythm is also simple and would certainly appeal to children and remind adults of the simple nursery rhymes they heard in their childhood. In this way Blake hopes to bring his readers back in touch with a simple spiritual innocence. The arrangement of the poem is such that every verse is musically rhythmical to which the readers can tap their feet while reading. Blake also uses the repetitions and variation on the words “pipe and piping” consistently, which provides an attractive sound to the reader’s ears and a memorable alliteration for the poem. For example in the second stanza of this poem Blake uses “pipe and variation on pipe five times. “’Pipe a song about a Lamb.’ So I piped with merry cheer. ‘Piper, pipe that song again’. So I piped; he wept to hear.” – (lines 5 to 8) . These combinations give a sense of quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another to capture the readers, or child’s, attention.
Whitman is a speaker in this poem. Nearing the end of his life I think he is reflecting on his work. He expresses the yearning of all poets to be able to express in words the beauty and power of nature. The “choice” to which he refers is the choice between being able to craft poetry like the worlds greatest poet or being able to truly capture the essence of the ocean. He obviously would eagerly trade the skills of the former for the ability to express the latter.
I think this Whitman poem is written in free verse. The rhythm of the poem changes dramatically when Whitman makes his plea to the sea for the ability or the “trick” to write verse in a way that captures the power and the wave in the ocean (lines 6 to 7) .