The Little Girl Found - Imagery, symbolism and themes

Imagery and symbolism

This poem needs to be read alongside The Little Girl Lost. As with that poem there is a dreamlike or fairy tale atmosphere to this poem. Critics have suggested that Blake is making use here of folk-tales about lost children who are found and reared by animals.

Folk-tales and the related form of the Romances often use images of caves and caverns inhabited by wild beasts. They evoke ideas of depth and hiddenness appropriate to the notion of the hidden, inner recesses of the mind.

Blake was also concerned to express what he believed was his true understanding of Christianity. He was writing for a public that, for the most part, was Christian and shared Blake's familiarity with the Bible. He both used – and questioned - Christian images that he knew his readers would recognise.

‘Desart wild' – This evokes biblical images of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness after their escape from captivity in Egypt and before reaching the Promised Land.

woe-begone – The parents sadly wandering suggests the picture of Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. They are turned out into a world which is no longer green and productive like Eden but hard to cultivate and weed-filled.

seven days and nights - The seven days and nights of wandering is often seen as an allusion to the seven days of creation (Genesis 1:1-31 and Genesis 2:1-3). It is suggested that Lyca's parents are representative of some process of re-creation and return to a vision of harmony and unashamed sexuality Lion, photo by user:Robek, available through Creative Commonslost in Eden.

Lion - The lion represents a dangerous, predatory force in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Blake himself uses him as a symbol of the ferocious power and energy within creation, as necessary to it as the gentleness of the lamb. The kingliness of the lion (‘crown', ‘golden hair', ‘palace') means that it is also associated with the various biblical visions of Christ at the end of time. In the Bible, Jesus is pictured both as a lion and a lamb, combining these contraries.

Investigating imagery and symbolism

  • What does knowledge of this symbolism add to your understanding of Little Girl Found?
  • Do you think you can have a satisfying reading of the poem aside without this additional layer of meaning?


The effects of ‘fallenness' on repression of sexuality and other emotions

Blake believed that human inhibitions lie primarily within the mind and were a consequence of the Fall. Working from this distorted perspective, people make their fears, guilt and shame into rules and laws, then enshrine them in social institutions such as the authority of parents, the Church and the State. Here, Lyca's parents must lose their fears and prohibitions.

Parental care and authority

The fears inherent in parental care are shown to be inappropriate as Lyca's parents learn to trust the forces of creation and sexuality.

Investigating themes

  • Compare the image of the parents here with that of the nurse in The Nurse's Song (I).
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