The Little Girl Lost: by William Blake - Summary & Analysis

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The Little Girl Lost

In futurity
I prophetic see
That the earth from sleep
(Grave the sentence deep)

Shall arise, and seek
for her Maker meek;
And the desert wild
Become a garden mild.

In the southern clime,
Where the summer’s prime
Never fades away,
Lovely Lyca lay.

Seven summers old
Lovely Lyca told.
She had wandered long,
Hearing wild birds’ song.

‘‘Sweet sleep, come to me
Underneath this tree;
Do father, mother, weep?
Where can Lyca sleep?

‘‘Lost in desert wild
Is your little child.
How can Lyca sleep
If her mother weep?

‘‘If her heart does ache,
Then let Lyca wake;
If my mother sleep,
Lyca shall not weep.

‘‘Frowning, frowning night,
O’er this desert bright
Let thy moon arise,
While I close my eyes.’’

Sleeping Lyca lay
While the beasts of prey,
Come from caverns deep,
Viewed the maid asleep.

The kingly lion stood,
And the virgin viewed:
Then he gambolled round
O’er the hallowed ground.

Leopards, tigers, play
Round her as she lay;
While the lion old
Bowed his mane of gold,

And her breast did lick
And upon her neck,
From his eyes of flame,
Ruby tears there came;

While the lioness
Loosed her slender dress,
And naked they conveyed
To caves the sleeping maid.

Summary and Analysis


      The poem 'The Little Girl Lost' resembles 'Introduction'. The Bard, in the guise of Blake, is again forecasting the advent of a golden age in futurity when mankind will live in accordance with the 'imagination' or by the 'Word of God.' The first two stanzas are introduction to the two poems 'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found.' The poem is allegorical. Seven-year-old Lyca is lost and her parents lament the loss and search for her. But Lyca is safe and sound among the 'beasts of prey.' In 'The Little Girl Lost' the girl is not brought back to her parents. That is carried out in 'The Little Girl Found'. 

In 'The Little Girl Lost' the girl is not brought back to her parents. That is carried out in 'The Little Girl Found'.
The Little Girl Lost


      Perhaps 'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found' are the best poems of Blake in the collection of Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Symbolism is there but it is not ambiguous; interpretation may vary but it is valid for both the poems.

      The poet begins his poem with a prophetic vision in which he finds the earth getting up from her sleep and following her 'Maker'. At the moment of her change there is an aiming transformation in which her grey locks and old looks are transfigured into 'a garden-mild'. Following the introduction the poet tells us about a girl named Lyca who lived in the southern climate. Lyca, a seven year old girl, loses her way while she wanders listening to the songs of wild birds. Therefore she is separated from her parents and sleeps under the trees of the forest. She imagines her parents weeping for her and so she is unable to sleep. As her mother keeps a painful heart, Lyca keeps a sleepless pillow. But at last, over come by sleep, her feeble infantine nature succumbs and she falls asleep. While the girl is fast asleep, the apparently cruel and wild animals set off from their caverns and come near her. The lion--king of the jungle observes the virgin and gambols around her in glee. With the lion other wild animals too dance rollickingly. The king of the jungle bows his golden mane and licks the girl's bosom and from his flaming eyes fall tears red as ruby. Meanwhile the lioness comes there and loosens the girl's smooth dress and lion and lioness carry the girl into their cave.

Serious Part of a Whole:

      On the face of it, the poem begins with a serious setting along with an enigmatic content. The wild beasts playing around the virgin and the kingly lion gambolling and licking the breasts of the girl all convey a Sense of mystery. But when we try to understand the meaning, we realise the unparalleled grandeur of Blake's vision engraved with deft strokes of artistic fervour. Since the two poems 'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found' are interconnected, one draws its semantic sustenance from the other.

      The girl Lyca is 'lost', not only in the literal sense of the word, but in the symbolic sense as well. Lyca is growing up and her present stage portends her nascent maturity. The parents are vexed at the novel feelings and instincts which Lyca experiences in growing up. The feelings and instincts are nothing but libidinal; and this new phase in her life is indicated by her sleep. Now, these libidinal impulses, or instincts and passion of love and sex, are aptly typified by the wild animals that frolic around her. But they seldom turn harmful. The ignorant parents, having no idea of what has befallen their child, are dejected and desperate. But in 'The Little Girl Found', they find their child and are happy. Symbolically, it is their understanding of the girl's change.

Another Point of View:

      Another interpretation of the poem is possible on the ground of 'death's dream 'kingdom'. Lyca falls asleep beneath a tree. The desert of the poem can be supposedly indicating Experience. At once she is brought under the protection of the Angel of Death. Then she is divested of her bodily dress and united to the world of God. Her parents moan the loss of their child, but later on follow 'Death' and find their daughter safe and sound. This interpretation, though not unwarranted, is unsatisfactory. In the painted illustration of the poem we find Lyca as a grown up young maid being embraced by her lover. This supports our former interpretation.

Innocence and Experience Blended:

      With regard to the contents of the poem we can conceive, of it as one of growth and attainment of maturity. There is a change in the stage of life of the girl. She passes from her innocent childhood to maturity. Almost same is the poet's development of thought. As we have noticed, in the Songs of Experience, experience and innocence are blended together and in this process none of the two virtues, is neutralised; instead, both assert their existence and importance harmoniously. In the original edition, 'The Little Girl Lost' appeared in the Songs of Innocence. This is not surprising because the reader can trace a good many intimations of innocente in this poem. But ultimately the poem subsides in the world of experience where passions (maybe sexual or of worldly nature,) and emotions are acknowledged and realised. Echoes of the poem 'Night' can be heard in 'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found'. In Blake's 'The Little Girl Lost' there recurs the images of tiger and lion The lion in this poem is never absorbed into the world of eternity nor does it go to constitute the trinity of lion, lamb and lad. The lion and lioness of this poem take the child to their cave and preserve the girl's chastity. But they transcend neither the time nor the place.

      There is no implication of chastity in the Songs of Innocence, nor do we se there any word such as maid or 'maiden'.

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