The Little Boy Found - Imagery, symbolism and themes

Imagery and symbolism

The poem revolves around associations aroused by the father – child relationship and associated ideas about the fatherhood of God. For Blake, the child had specific associations with Christ and he expected his contemporaries to recognise these. See The Little Boy Lost > Imagery and symbolism. Here we see that the reality of the failure of human fatherhood is evaded by an over-easy assertion of the protective fatherhood of God.

Lonely fen / dale – In opposition to the pastoral ideal, Blake presents the rural landscape as one of comfortless isolation and consequent distress.

Puckwandring light - In The Little Boy Lost, this represented an unreliable guide for the little boy (the will-o'-the-wisp was created by the sporadic combustion of marsh gases). There are also the literary allusions to the mischievous ‘guidance' of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Ariel in The Tempest.

However, the light's more constant presence and association with God's guidance in this poem may allude to the pillar of fire by which God led the children of Israel away from the danger of Egypt and through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21).

Investigating imagery and symbolism

  • Do you find the image of God, the father, persuasive in The Little Boy Found?
    • If so, why?
    • If not, what makes you find it questionable?


The vulnerability of innocence

Innocence is especially endangered when it is ignorant of the ‘woe' in life and of the possibility of failure and betrayal.


The insufficiency of human parenting, which leaves an infant isolated and lost, is exposed. By contrast, the parenting of God can be seen as providing true guidance and drawing alongside the child's experience in a loving, secure relationship.

God in man's image

Blake disagreed with the creation of the image of an external God-figure, as simply being a projection of human needs and attitudes. In The Little Boy Found, this is seen as escapist, a desire to evade awareness of vulnerability and potential loss.

Investigating themes

  • What new insights have you gained from this poem about Blake's understanding of innocence?
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.