Monday, July 01, 2013

Little Black Boy

In Blake's day slavery was legal (I don't think it was as crude and 
vicious as it was in some Southern plantations, but the negro was 
generally considered inferior in polite society).  Actually Slavery 
was abolished in 1833, five years after Blake died.

From Wiki Commons

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
White as an angel is the English child: 
But I am black as if bereav'd of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree 
And sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And pointing to the east began to say. 

Look on the rising sun: there God does live 
And gives his light, and gives his heat away. 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning joy in the noonday.

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love, 
And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear 
The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice. 
Saying: come out from the grove my love & care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.

Thus did my mother say and kissed me, 
And thus I say to little English boy. 
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy: 

Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear,   
To lean in joy upon our fathers knee. 
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him and he will then love me.

Note the love the boy's mother feels in her response to his situation
and how she encourages his faith in a loving God. The shady
grove describes his circumstance, but God will melt the cloud

("Melt the clouds of sin and sadness and drive the dark of doubt
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!")

There is much more to be said about this beautiful poem, enough
for many posts.

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