Monday, September 15, 2014

Blake - Prompt 3

            Blake is not shy in referencing Christian values in multiple poems throughout the Songs of Innocence. The images paired with the texts are meant to enforce the multiple references to God as well. For “The Little Black Boy” and for “The Little Boy Lost”, the iconic figure of a man with a halo around his head is hard to ignore. Each text also explicitly mentions God and how he is an important part of innocence. In “The Little Black Boy” specifically, there is an underlying tone of how modeling after God is the best way to live life. The constant need to be as pure as God and a symbol of light should be the overarching goal of life for mothers and children alike. The missing role of the father alludes also to the story of the Virgin Mary. If Blake is truly following the biblical references, Jesus was born without a human father. Blake sets mothers and children in the ethereal role of Mary and Jesus by removing the human father, stressing God as the father over a human man.
            These two poems are prime examples of the way Blake tries to convey that God and a father of a household are one and the same. In each text, there is the use of the word ‘father’ without the usual capital letter when referencing the Christian God. The small difference is blurring the lines between mundane and sacred. Fathers are humans, full of mistakes, regret, and experience; the complete opposite of what Blake wants to convey in the first half of this novel. By not differentiating the use of ‘father’ when speaking of God, Blake is showing that God can be used in both roles as ethereal father and human father.
            In “The Little Black Boy”, the innocence of the mother is blinding. The boy is taught about all the good things he should be aspiring to as well as where God lives (Blake 9, line 8-9). Once again, there is a parallel between the biblical Mary and any other mother with a child. The mother is all-knowing and has to spread the innocence and the good to her child. Meanwhile, the only mention of ‘men’ in the poem is referencing how men is benefitting from God’s warmth (Blake 9, line 11-12). This is echoing the bottom line of God being superior enough to play both the father figure as well as the idol.
“The Little Boy Found” is more forth coming in this disregard for the human father as a sense of importance. God appears to the lost boy “like his father” indicating that Blake is acknowledging that there is a difference between a biological father and God as a father (Blake 14, line 4). The idea of God rescuing this lost soul when a father could not highlights the limitations of human beings. Blake continues to favor the mother by aligning her to lightness. She is described as “in sorrow pale” which shows her aversion to darkness just like Mary (Blake 14, line 7). The boy has complete trust in God and follows him to the safety of his mother where he has a sense of home. With the most crucial emotions being divided among God and mother, there is no need for a biological father figure.
Because of the deep roots in biblical influence, Blake sees innocence with three major players; God, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus. Though he manipulates how Mary and Jesus are conveyed through his writings, the characters are strong throughout the Songs of Innocence. The youth that are physical representations of innocence are the parallel for Jesus. Each mother spreading wisdom and light to her child or children is meant to be a sister of Mary. God does not have any false front in the poems, yet there are still certain keys to how God is presented. The images accompanying the texts shows the halo seen in many church paintings. Buzz words such as light, white, or sun can be found to frame this mental image of God along with the picture provided.

Blake uses the biblical references, the style of writing, and the characters to further emphasize his way of viewing innocence. The role of a biological or human father is not necessary for the perpetuation of innocence. In fact, having a male figure that is not God can be seen as tarnishing the joy of innocence. Mothers and their children can explore the world and enjoy the warmth of the sun without an alpha male keeping them safe. The group is watched by the eyes of God, and nothing is more superior than that. 


  1. It is clear that your argument is addressing the presence of Christian figures in Blake's poem. A main piece of the argument is how Blake tries to address that the father figure is a very necessary thing to have in family life, however it can be in either the form of a true father, or THE Father. With so much of his poetry in the Songs of Innocence referencing God and alluding to Jesus/the Virgin Mary there was lots of evidence to choose from. This of course being both a blessing and a curse. It seems to make the argument less specific and more general, yet also giving you ample work to use. The two poems you did use however, did defend your argument well. Especially with Little Boy Found since it is so obviously the message you were trying to get across. If you were to revise this, you could possibly expand upon the less obvious allusions to Virgin Mary and Jesus that you mentioned, and maybe be a bit more specific with the point you make somehow; just an idea.

  2. The initial material about Blake's range of religious references is ok. I'd like a clearer understanding of how that relates to your particular interest in and reading of the images, but I'll also note that your introduction of the virgin birth has potential, if you follow up on it.

    Your note about "father" vs. "Father" is very clever. But what are you doing with it? You have things to say, I can see that - but what is *the* thing you have to say?

    Re: the mother's innocence. In what sense is it blinding? Are you talking about the picture, your impression of her, both, or neither? It's just such an interesting claim that I'd like to understand it better.

    I found your closing paragraph startling. I think your idea about the absence of alpha males is smart, and the wording is interesting - after all, in an innocent world (innocent of competion and violence?) what role could there possibly be for an "alpha"?

    In a revision, though, I'd badly want to see your argument about innocence, femininity and masculinity clearly stated. You never quite say exactly what your argument is, although it becomes fairly clear in the conclusion. That also makes it hard to follow which details are really relevant for what you're doing - and it also means that it's unclear why you jump between poems when you do

    Short version: the idea, now that I really grasp it, is really good, but it isn't well structured, and so the evidence on the page (especially in your limited discussion of the visual elements) isn't as clear as it probably is inside your head, where things are more tidily structured.