Fathers In Blake's Songs Of Innocence

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The Great Commission: A Failure of Fathers in Blake’s Songs of Innocence Because Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience have been read in tandem since they were first published together in 1794, it can be easy to overlook that Songs of Innocence was once a work that stood on its own. However, looking at Songs of Innocence as an individual work allows the reader to step back from its role as a comparison to Songs of Experience. This separation makes the inherent dark themes in Songs of Innocence more difficult to ignore. One of those themes presents itself in failing fathers, both natural and divine. To accomplish his critique of natural fathers, Blake provides the poem “The Shepherd”, which appears towards the beginning of his work. …show more content…
Similarly to “The Chimney Sweeper”, we see a father abandoning his child in the opening lines of “The Little Boy Lost”. The child responds by saying, “Speak father, speak to your little boy / Or else I shall be lost” (3-4). Just as the father does not reply in the frame of “The Shepherd”, he also does not reply here because fathers in Songs of Innocence only complete actions that benefit them. When the child says that he will be lost, the word contains a double meaning. The first being that the boy will be unable to find his way. However, the child will also be permanently lost from the father and from the world in the form of death, as is revealed in “The Little Boy Found”. Near the end of this poem, the speaker reveals that, “The mire was deep, and the child did weep” (7). A mire is a landscape similar to that of a swamp, but The Oxford English Dictionary also defines mire as, “an undesirable state or condition (formerly esp. of sin or moral degradation) from which it is difficult to extricate oneself”. Blake’s decision to describe the mire as deep, develops the theme that the relationship between impoverished fathers and sons is ingrained in them by …show more content…
However, Blake’s criticism of a divine father runs just as deep as his criticism of a natural one. Returning to “The Chimney Sweeper” and looking toward “The Little Boy Found”, reveals how the search for a divine father could result in disappointment. In “The Chimney Sweeper”, the child’s friend has a dream in which, “The Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, / He’d have God for his father, and never want joy” (19-20). Here, because of the lack of a natural father, the child pursues a divine father. However, when the child does this, he is so defeated, that even in turning to God, he does not desire joy. The child’s life has been so painful that he has come to expect that his life will be void of happiness, even in the presence of a divine god. In “The Little Boy Found”, God intercepts after a natural father has left. He, “Appeared like his [the child’s] father, in white” (4). Blake is comparing God to the child’s father, who has just abandoned him, which does not inspire hope in the reader. In fact, the only comfort the child receives in this poem is in his reunification with his mother, “And to his mother brought, / Who in sorrow pale, thro’ the lonely dale / Her little boy weeping sought” (6-8). This echoes the frame of “The Shepherd” which labels mothers as tender. Most interestingly in this poem, God, “kissed the child,

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