The Little Boy Lost: by William Blake - Summary and Analysis

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The Little Boy Lost

‘‘Father, father, where are you going?
Oh do not walk so fast!
Speak, father, speak to you 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, and the child did weep,
And away the vapour flew.

Summary and Analysis


      The Little Boy Lost forewarns the nascent world of experience. Here, Father is as usual a guardian figure but he is not benign or kind. He ignores and turns his back upon the weeping infant and strides so fast that the little boy cannot keep up with him.

The Little Boy Lost forewarns the nascent world of experience. Here, Father is as usual a guardian figure but he is not benign or kind.
The Little Boy Lost

Summary :

      'The Little Boy Lost' is a phantasmagoric cry of a little child who implores his father almost supplicatingly to move slowly so that the boy may keep on walking with him. The boy is pained at the dumbness of his father who says nothing to him. Nevertheless, the boy is in a predicament. If his father gives him up he will be doomed and lost in darkness. But the boy's sight of his father turns out to be an illusion in the second stanza because - 'The night was dark, no father was there!' The child suffers from the cold and what is more his legs are lost in the mire of the marshy land. The child weeps aloud and a phosphorescent light darts off from the marshy land.

Suspenseful Aura :

      The setting of the poem overwhelms in suspense. The aspect of 'guardian angel' is negated here. This is, of course, a poem of innocence. The innocence of the child is all the more apparent in the poem. But to understand the poem well we have to go through 'The Little Boy Found' because one is supplemented by the other.

      Does Father' imply God? Seemingly enough, the poem ascribes a negative role to father with regard to his reaction towards the child's entreaty. The father's lack of sympathy and his insensitive heart do not show that he is a good guardian. The term father embraces God too as it is evident from other works of Blake. If it be so, God is proved unkind. However we must remember that this work stands at the threshold of a drastic change-the change from innocence to experience. Consequently, 'The Little Boy Lost' has a colour of 'experience' and hence the boy's agonizing cry and God's (if at all) remaining intact.

      The Youth Who Travels Farther from the East: The poem has been furnished with a symbolic meaning too. The little boy is unable to see his father who is aloof from him (or the boy is aloof from God). Since the dew of line 6 stands for materialism or worldly pleasures, we can say that the child is fully immersed in worldly pleasures. According to another interpretation 'vapour' (of the last line) stands for man's power to reason. If it be seen from this angle we can develop the idea that the boy who grows up, falls in the clutches of reasoning and 'worldly pleasure' and therefore he forgets God, or, as Wordsworth says, the boy is precisely:

"The youth who daily farther from the East

Must travel....."

      till at last his vision of God dies away, and "fades into the light of common day".

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