AG: Next, “The Little Boy Lost”. Now, “The Lost Child” – one interpretation of that – of the “Little Boy Lost” and “The Little Boy Found”, they’re companion pieces) – (is as) somewhat (of) an attack on organized religion and the church and the theistic notion of God. And when God does appear to find the child or to redeem the child or to take him back home, he appears like his father. In other words, God appears in human form. So it’s Blake’s complaint that the soul will be lost in the fen or wild forest of mysticism and will only be found by a human representation of the divine, or only the human form will be able to relate to the lost soul, the lost kid.
“Father, father, where are you going/ O do not walk so fast./Speak father, speak to your little boy/Or else I shall be lost,/ The night was dark no father was there/The child was wet with dew./ The mire was deep, & the child did weep/ And away the vapour flew.”
The little boy lost in the lonely fen,/Led by the wand’ring light,/Began to cry, but God ever nigh,/Appeard like his father in white./He kissed the child & by the hand led/And to his mother brought,/Who in sorrow pale, thro’ the lonely dale/Her little boy weeping sought.”
Does that interpretation make sense to the text?
Student: What did you say? That only a human form can….
AG: Well, it’s a little parable about the soul or the child getting lost in the woods of religion, and only when a real father appears, only when God appears as a real human father, as a real father, is there any contact, is there anything real, or is the child found. So that if there is a divine, it would have to be the human form divine, rather than the mysterious god outside of the machine invisible, old Nobodaddy. So it seems to be a parable about the human soul faced with the mysteries of religion, which are awful in Blake’s idea, and redeemed only by a human form or contact. Found. The child found only when a human form appears, rather than a mysterious, invisible, divine holy ghost. Not a ghostly form but a human form.
At the beginning the kid is asking “Where is the father going, don’t walk so fast, talk to me. Make an appearance, otherwise I’ll be lost.” The night was dark and there was no father around. The child was wet with dew and was suffering. And then finally the child broke down with a human emotion and wept and as he wept and began having feeling, then the vapor flew away. He was led by the wandering light of religion, which was wandering all over and leading him astray. And then he finally began to cry. But god, always there, appeared finally but appeared in what form? Like his father, in white. Then he kissed the child, (a human kiss), took him by the hand, like a father, and brought him to his mother, who also would be the earth. (The) mother, I imagine, would be the appearance of earth – the actual world, this world, the world of nature. Who herself, in pale sorrow, had been wandering around through the lonely dales looking for her own kitty. So it’s simply rejecting a non-human version of the divine, and affirming a human version of the divine, I guess.
But all through Blake we’re going to have that problem: What is god and what is his belief in god and Christ. Because at a certain point he realizes his Poetic Genius is god — that is, god exists as a projection of our own poetic genius. The human imagination is the ultimate. However, later on he has to bring in somebody to get the scene together and put Albion together and get all the Four Zoas together, to get Urizen, Tharmas, Urthona and Luvah all in one body, all the four basic elements. There is at the end of Blake, in Jerusalem, some kind of slight of hand and you don’t quite know (what to make of it). Christ appears in some form or other. When everything is lost, Christ does appear. And he seems to be outside of those Four Zoas. And I’m not sure Blake ever did figure out the whole problem of a theistic or a non-theistic answer. But his version of god was always opposite to what the formal religions and the churches preached. It’s interesting to see the evolution of the use of god, or spirit, or divine, from these early writings to the very end, and how he relates to it and how he deals with it. That’s one thing that I always (was interested in). Blake is such an independent man and his mind is so invulnerable and experimental and unafraid, that it’s interesting to see what he finally does when he has to deal with that ultimate concept of god – whether he wants to work with it or not work with it, and whose god he wants to work with, and how he interprets the western god. He sure ain’t scared of god! He’s willing to throw god in the lake. He’s willing to make Lucifer or Satan a hero;, he’s willing to make an anti-god as energy, or an anti-Christian god as energy. He goes through all different changes with the conception of god including saying that he’s old Nobodaddy at one point, just a magical scare figure in heaven. We’ll get to Nobodaddy later.