The Little Girl Found - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

A dream-like atmosphere is created in the poem by the way one day becomes without explanation, seven. We see not only the anguish of the parents in stanza two but more graphically their fearful dream, regarding Lyca's fate. Everything they feel is magnified in their fears for their child:

  • They are ‘tired', ‘woebegone', ‘hoarse' with moaning
  • She is ‘starv'd', ‘Famish'd, weeping, weak', making ‘hollow piteous shriek.'

Their feelings are inextricably tied-up with their daughter. These pitiful feelings are emphasised further by the use of alliteration in these lines.

So Blake builds up sympathy for parents worn out by their cares; the mother is ‘trembling', all her woe is felt in the exhaustion of her feet. The father is tender and determined. In this way, we feel their dismay when confronted with the lion. This lion seems threatening, behaving like a typical lion:

  • His mane is ‘heavy'
  • He ‘Bore them to the ground'
  • He ‘Stalk'd' around them ‘smelling to his prey'.

And so we, like them, expect the worst.

Hence, the impact is great when the lion is revealed as benevolent. The fear which has been aroused is dispelled. The relief is underlined by the liquid ‘l' sounds in which the lion's next actions are described – ‘allay', ‘licks', ‘silent'. And readers are then perhaps led to rethink their fearful response to ‘smelling'.

Investigating language and tone

  • Pick out some examples of Blake's use of alliteration in this poem.
  • What do you think it adds to your total appreciation of the poem?

Structure and versification

As in The Little Girl Lost, the rhymed couplets and regular three stresses to each line create a predictability and security which undercuts the anxiety felt by the parents. It highlights the reversal of expectations in the later stanzas. Wild beasts do not disturb or threaten – nor does the rhythm and pattern of the verse. The predictability suits the fairytale nature of the content.

Investigating structure and versification

  • Do you find the regularity and predictability of the rhythm helpful in appreciating what Blake is trying to express in this poem?
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