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

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The Little Girl Found

All the night in woe
Lyca’s parents go
Over valleys deep,
While the deserts weep.

Tired and woe-begone,
Hoarse with making moan,
Arm in arm, seven days
They traced the desert ways.

Seven nights they sleep
Among shadows deep,
And dream they see their child
Starved in desert wild.

Pale through pathless ways
The fancied image strays,
Famished, weeping, weak,
With hollow piteous shriek.

Rising from unrest,
The trembling woman presse
With feet of weary woe;
She could no further go.

In his arms he bore
Her, armed with sorrow sore;
Till before their way
A couching lion lay.

Turning back was vain:
Soon his heavy mane
Bore them to the ground,
Then he stalked around,

Smelling to his prey;
But their fears allay
When he licks their hands,
And silent by them stands.

They look upon his eyes,
Filled with deep surprise;
And wondering behold
A spirit armed in gold.

On his head a crown,
On his shoulders down
Flowed his golden hair.
Gone was all their care.

‘‘Follow me,’’ he said;
‘‘Weep not for the maid;
In my palace deep,
Lyca lies asleep.’’

Then they followed
Where the vision led,
And saw their sleeping child
Among tigers wild.

To this day they dwell
In a lonely dell,
Nor fear the wolvish howl
Nor the lion’s growl.

Summary and Analysis


      'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found' are interconnected poems together forming an allegorical explication of the story of Lyca lost and found. In the last stanza of the poem we notice the reunion of the family. The parents are brought to the child (as against the boy being brought to the parents in the 'The Little boy Found' in Songs of Innocence) and they live happily amidst the multitude of harmless beasts. This valley where the family happens to unite points at the golden age the poet prophetically visualises in the opening two stanzas of the poem, The Little Girl Lost.

'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found' are interconnected poems together forming an allegorical explication of the story of Lyca lost and found
The Little Girl Found


      'The Little Girl Found' follows the poem 'The Little Girl Lost' and both tend to exist together as an organic whole. They are interdependent and mutually contributing to the wholeness of the poem. In 'The Little Girl Lost' the poet fabulates the story of the girl led astray and shows her under the protection of the lion. The parents are distressed. They run frantically in search of their lost child and pass obstacles and miseries. They sleep, as the girl does formerly, "Among shadows deep" and dream that their child is famished, weeping and roaming alone in the wilderness like a spectre. The mother on her way to find the lost girl trembles with exhaustion and fear and the father bears her in his arms and they resume their journey. To make matters worse they come across a lion ready to pounce upon them and so they are entirely broken-hearted. The lion tumbles them down to the ground.

      But astoundingly enough, the lion turns tame and meek. It licks their hands affectionately and stands mutely by them. As the parents look into the depths of the lion's eyes they visualise an angel in a crown with cascading golden hair. Now that the parents see this enthralling sight they are at peace. Subsequently the angel bids them follow him and not to weep in sorrow. He assures them that Lyca who sleeps peacefully in his palace is safe and sound. The parents accompany the spirit and come to his abode where, to their utter amazement, they behold their child sleeping, at home among the wild beasts. They join her and live there forever in the company of the beasts whom they begin to love, understand and find very friendly.

Why the Poem is one of 'Experience':

      The poem has plenty of instances suggestive of the atmosphere of innocence. But the divergence is explicity and unmistakable. There is no movement in the poem from 'shadows deep' to the valleys of magnificent visions. The lion holds the characters on the carth, brings them to its cave and no more change is sought. And what is more, the parents goal of achievement seems to be, not the loftiest kingdom of God, but an unveiled and included mysterious land on the earth itself. Nor does the lion undergo any sort of transmutation or metamorphosis. The 'palace deep' is not the sunny world of God; on the contrary 'deep' may be associated with darkness and hence the note of tyranny. The 'deep valley' and the 'dell' could easily be the world of Urizen.

      The girl is 'found' in the sense that the parents grasp the cause of change in the girl. They follow her and finally construe that she is safe in the charge of the new spirit which protects her and provides her security. The new spirit is the power of the girl to develop the virtue of 'Love' and her ability to reciprocate the love imparted to her by her lover.

A Poem of Growth:

      'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found' are poems indicating growth of Lyca from childhood to youth. She breaks away from her parents and discovers the new vistas of adult passions especially those linked with sexual experience. As the tiger in 'The Tyger' symbolises energy and rough passions here, too, the wild beasts epitomize the girl's newly attained knowledge of sexual urges. But the difference is that in this context the beasts are benign. Lyca's passions are natural and innocent and what puzzles her is her knowledge at her parents look at her new phase of life with suspicion. In The Little Girl Found the apprehensions of the parents are alleviated when they find their child secure. Before they come to know the truth, they fancy that their child is on an Odd, whimsical and strange path. On their way in search of the child they confront the lion and are terrified. But later they recognise the fact that the beasts are gentle and harmless. When they join the harmless fold of animals they make out the relevance and significance of human passions which beautify the life and strengthen the human passions which beautify the life and strengthen the human bonds. But it is to be marked that the parents never win their child over to her past innocence; on the other hand, they come to a new understanding of and with their daughter in the light of a new awareness of her adult passions.

The Borderland:

      Here is a mature, reasonable judgement of Blake's poems 'The Little Girl Lost' and 'The Little Girl Found'. "In both poems we come to the borderland between Innocence and Experience. Blake moved these poems from one group to the other, and this convertibility helps us to understand the relationship of 'contrary states.' In the two poems, the seeming forces of evil prove to be as gentle and fostering as parents--perhaps through the influence of the sleeping maid, whose innocence, creates a precinct of hallowed ground." The lion's 'ruby tear flow with pity for her unapproachableness her weakness and her trust disarm the beasts of prey. In the second poem the lion reveals an angel within, and his cave becomes a palace; the parents who brave the winds for the sake of their lost child are rewarded with a new freedom and security:

"To this day they dwell

In a lonely dell.

Nor fear the wolfish howl

Nor the lion's growl."

      They live in a world where evil has no power, however much it may seem to threaten others.

      If we stress the faith that is strong enough to transcend the power of the world, these poems clearly fall into the pattern of Innocence. If on the other hand, we stress the adversity to be overcome and the courage with which it is faced, they move towards Experience, although they remain the most triumphant of the Songs of Experience. Seven year old Lyca wanders into the 'desert wild' and is lost. Significantly, she is concerned not for herself but for her parents grief. She confidently summons the moon to guard her and goes to sleep. The beasts of the wild play around her, licking her and weeping with pity until at last they accept her as one of themselves, loosen her dress, and carry her to their caves. In 'The Little Girl Found' we see that Lyca's parents do indeed grieve and search for her. After seven days ot anxiety and distress, the mother can go no further and is carried in her husband's arms. They too encounter a lion, which seems to stalk them. But suddenly he licks their hands and becomes a Spirit armed in gold' (like the lion in 'Night'). He leads them to his palace where Lyca lies sleeping among tigers.

Lyca the Heroine:

      Lyca's story as put by Blake finds larger possibilities of association with Una, one of the characters of Spenser's Faerie Queene Una, like Lyca, is lost in the wilderness and a lion comes before her, bows and protects her from evils. Fairie Queene as it is suggested by the title is a fairy tale. Some other Romantic poems of Spenser's period are the Children in the Wood and The Sleeping Beauty. In the story of the Children in the Wood, the children hailing from a royal family are abandoned in a dense forest by one of their relatives. The beasts of the forest approach them and walk beside them. This romantic setting can be seen to have influenced Blake's poem.

      Another association of Lyca is with Persephone, a heroine of Greek mythology. According to this myth Persephone is abducted by Pluto, the king of Hades and is brought to Hades (underworld). Lyca also lies asleep in the same sort of world which has a non-human nature. Like Demeter in the Greek myth Lyca's parents come in search of her. But they do not get their child back; instead, the lion king (like Pluto) who pacifies them gives up his animal guise and helps them join their daughter. This may be taken as an implication that he is to make Lyca his queen in his 'Palace deep' just as Pluto weds Persephone.

      Lyca lost and found may also be seen as the soul assuming physical existence and later abandoning it. Lyca 'lost' is the soul that has entered the corporeal body and lyca 'found' is the soul restored to its original abode of heaven.

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