Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Matthew 18
[2] And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
[3] And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
[5] And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 

Blake's God was the immanent presence who provided him comfort and guidance as well as the vision which illumined his imagination. To lose sight of the Heavenly Father, to feel that the vision was being withdrawn would be a desperate feeling. In The Little Boy lost the obscuring mist was dispelled by the boy's weeping which represented his consciousness of his condition of being lost.

British Museum
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
Plate 10
Copy A
Songs of Innocence & Of Experience, Song 13, (E 11) 
"The Little Boy lost          

Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost,

The night was dark no father was there   
The child was wet with dew,
The mire was deep, & the child did weep
And away the vapour flew."

As a follow-up to The Little Boy lost Blake wrote another of the Songs of Innocence, The Little Boy Found. Although the second poem may be transitioning to symbols more appropriate for Songs of Experience, it shares  the theme of protection and guidance prevalent in Songs of Innocence.
In the state of Innocence the providential elements which allow the boy to be found include the light, God, Father and Mother.  

British Museum
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
Plate 22
Copy A
Songs of Innocence & Of Experience, Song 14, (E 11) 
"The Little Boy Found 

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand'ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh,
Appeard like his father in white.

He kissed the child & by the hand led  
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro' the lonely dale
Her little boy weeping sought."

This boy in Songs of Experience is lost to conventional religious teaching. He knows the limitations of his ability to love and understand. He makes the mistake of being overheard by a religious authority. The weeping of the child and parents is powerless against the intrenched establishment. This child is lost, not through the failure of his own vision, but through the failure of his culture to value and protect its children and the freedom to think independently.
Blake made an extreme statement in this poem to express his extreme feelings about the failure of the Christian Church. That an institution which grew out of the teachings of love and forgiveness of Jesus, could become cruel, cold and oppressive raised his ire. 

British Museum
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
Plate 49
Copy T

Songs of Innocence & Of Experience, Song 50, (E 28)
"A Little BOY Lost            

Nought loves another as itself
Nor venerates another so.
Nor is it possible to Thought
A greater than itself to know:

And Father, how can I love you, 
Or any of my brothers more?     
I love you like the little bird 
That picks up crumbs around the door.

The Priest sat by and heard the child.
In trembling zeal he siez'd his hair: 
He led him by his little coat:        
And all admir'd the Priestly care.    

And standing on the altar high,       
Lo what a fiend is here! said he:
One who sets reason up for judge 
Of our most holy Mystery.

The weeping child could not be heard.
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They strip'd him to his little shirt. 
And bound him in an iron chain.
And burn'd him in a holy place,
Where many had been burn'd before:
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such things done on Albions shore."
The comparison of the states of Innocence and Experience in these poems indicates that the resources which were available in Innocence had disappeared in Experience. The child's calls for help in Innocence are readily answered; in Experience they draw no response. The connection with God which in Innocence is always available, in Experience has been replaced by institutional religion which makes a priest with his doctrines and rituals the intermediary between God and man.    
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 9, (E 37)
"As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs
     on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys."   

Milton, Plate 38 [43], (E 139)
"Thy purpose & the purpose of thy Priests & of thy Churches
Is to impress on men the fear of death; to teach
Trembling & fear, terror, constriction; abject selfishness
Mine is to teach Men to despise death & to go on            
In fearless majesty annihilating Self, laughing to scorn
Thy Laws & terrors, shaking down thy Synagogues as webs
I come to discover before Heavn & Hell the Self righteousness
In all its Hypocritic turpitude, opening to every eye
These wonders of Satans holiness shewing to the Earth     
The Idol Virtues of the Natural Heart, & Satans Seat"  

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