AG (to Peter Orlovsky): So,“The Little Black Boy”. Do you want to do that?
“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 noon day./ 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:/I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear,/To learn 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.”
[ tape ends here and resumes in media res] –
… the cloud are the skin and the mortal body and there is some kind of spirit that gets free from the body and joys around the tent of God. So there’s some sort of archetypal soul that emerges. I don’t think that Blake kept to this, or that many of the critics say that this kind of set up was ironic, or sardonic, or cynical, actually, that he was making fun of such sentimentalists. So my own feeling is that it’s heartfelt, this poem.
[ Allen continues]
“The Blossom”- (is) a little sexual song, the sparrow being the phallus, the blossom being the vagina, and the sobbing, sobbing, being come – orgasm.
“Merry Merry Sparrow/Under leaves so green/A happy Blossom/Sees you swift as arrow/Seek your cradle narrow/Near my Bosom/ Pretty Pretty Robin/Under leaves so green/A happy Blossom/ Hears you sobbing sobbing/ Pretty Pretty Robin/Near my Bosom./ Merry Merry Sparrow/Under leaves so green/A happy Blossom/Sees you swift as arrow/Seek your cradle narrow/Near my Bosom/ Pretty Pretty Robin/Under leaves so green/A happy Blossom/Hears you sobbing sobbing/Pretty Pretty Robin/Near my Bosom.”
to be continued