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The Little Black Boy By William Blake

Updated: May 5, 2020

Get ready for some difficult to read themes. Here we will deal with racism and slavery.

In this poem by Blake, from The Songs of Innocence, he expresses in beautiful verse a story that a mother tells to her young child about why they are black slaves living in England during the mid 18th century.

If you have followed along with my readings of Blake you will know that this is only the surface level. It is the "innocent" reading. The experienced reading will metaphorically, shake your world.

Do not miss this one.


The Little Black Boy


My mother bore me in the southern wild,

And I am black, but O! my soul is white;

White as an angel is the English child:

But I am black as if bereav'd of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree

And sitting down before the heat of day,

She took me on her lap and kissed me,

And pointing to the east began to say.

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 in morning joy in the noonday.

And we are put on earth a little space,

That we may learn to bear the beams of love,

And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face

Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear

The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice.

Saying: come out from the grove my love & care,

And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.

Thus did my mother say and kissed me,

And thus I say to little English boy.

When I from black and he from white cloud free,

And round the tent of God like lambs we joy:

Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear,

To lean in joy upon our fathers knee.

And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,

And be like him and he will then love me.


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