The Little Girl Found - Synopsis and commentary

Synopsis of The Little Girl Found

The Little Girl Found

The parents of Lyca in The Little Girl Found are searching for Lyca in great sorrow that seems to be shared by the land. For seven days they search and for seven nights have dreadful dreams about her fate. Finally, the mother feels at the end of her strength. Her husband carries her. They then come across a crouching lion who overpowers them. But he proves benevolent. They look into his eyes and see he is not a lion but a regal spirit. He tells them not to be afraid but to follow him to his palace where Lyca sleeps. They follow him and find their daughter sleeping amongst tigers. They now live in a lonely dale without fear of the wild beasts.

This poem was originally included in the Songs of Innocence but was moved to the Songs of Experience when the whole sequence Songs of Innocence and Experience was published.


This poem needs to be read alongside The Little Girl Lost. Lyca's parents fear her fate when exposed to life outside their care. At a deeper level, they are concerned about her exposure to the forces within creation and within human beings which express themselves in sexuality. These fears emerge while they sleep, since dreaming allows access to feelings and experiences unavailable to the waking mind.

The experience of Lyca's parents in the poem demonstrates that danger exists in their perception of reality, rather than in reality itself. Initially, they see the lion as a predatory beast, an enemy. When they truly see him, however, they perceive him as a glorious spirit, a beautiful and noble force. This new perception is deepened by seeing Lyca sleeping unharmed amid tigers. With their ‘eyes opened', they are freed from their fears about the fierce energy and force within creation / humanity expressed through sexuality. Lyca's parents can now live at peace with these forces.

That their new life continues ‘In a lonely dell,' suggests that this new perception has removed them from the influence of society so that they can live in harmony with nature. Dells are usually places of moisture and therefore fecundity, an improvement on the widespread but barren desert. One interpretation of this is that Lyca's parents are ‘saved' by their new understanding of natural sexuality.

Relating their narrative back to the biblical account, the idea of the couple wandering woe-begone evokes the picture of Adam and Eve expelled from Eden, now awoken to self-consciousness and shame. Their wandering for seven days before their restoration to a shame-free vision suggests they have undergone a form of re-creation and now have attained the harmony lost by their Fall.

Investigating The Little Girl Found

  • Could you appreciate this poem fully if you didn't know The Little Girl Lost?
  • Do you think you should be able to understand any poem without reference to anything outside it?
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