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Close Reading: The Little Black Boy By William Blake

1005 words - 5 pages

With the release of Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, William Blake undoubtedly pushed boundaries of societal constraints in his time period. Through his poetry, Blake stirred up controversy by exposing what he believed to be flaws in the human culture. Specifically, in The Little Black Boy, he reveals the exploited innocence of neglected and enslaved children, while also reflecting his views of human nature, including his belief in equality. His use of many literary devices such as similes, metaphors and allusions helped adapt his writing to produce an accurate depiction of what life was like for African-American slaves in the time period.
Blake wrote The Little Black Boy ...view middle of the document...

In the following two stanzas, the boy explains how he learned of God and redemption from his mother. "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 morning joy in the noonday" (9-12). She taught him that God gives light to all things including flowers, trees, beasts, and all men. She reassures him that just because he his black does not mean he is excluded from god’s light and love. The mother continues to explain that the presence of the sun is where God lives and he “gives his light, and gives his heat away." This metaphor compares how god's love is like the heat and light given off by the sun. She explains to the boy that working in the sun and heat will prepare him to “bear the beams of love / And these black bodies and this sunburnt face / Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove" (13-16). The cloud acts as a shield to protect them from the harsh rays. Instead, it absorbs god’s “heat” through love and devotion. After death, only when a person has shown enough love and devotion will God give them salvation. So even though, the English child appears to be born innocent on the outside, the black boy’s “sunburnt face” is actually a sign that he has absorbed more of god’s “heat” and will reach salvation sooner than the English boy.
Although the little black boy turns out to have the advantage over the English child, despite all his pain and suffering, the boy still only wishes for equality. With this, Blake is highlighting the flaws of human’s nature to dominate rather than work together. Even if one race were deemed superior, it wouldn’t solve anything. In the last two lines of the fifth stanza,...

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