The Children of Blake and Wordsworth
The 18th century fostered many new ideas, including new opinions of Nature and spirituality. Romantic poets William Blake and William Wordsworth each took one of those concepts and through it painted two different portraits, both inspired by memories of childhood. Blake created poetry that "every child may joy to hear" (“Introduction” 1411;20), and his poetry is laden with references to lambs and Christianity. Wordsworth had a much closer connection to Nature, using it as the source of his fondest childhood memories. Both used children as a motif in some of their poetry, Blake connecting children to Christianity and Wordsworth connecting children to Nature.
The poems featured in Blake’s "Songs of Innocence" play on the naive hopes and fears of childhood. Some are written from an adult's point of view, and some are from the child's point of view. Blake speaks from the child’s perspective in "The Lamb". The style of the poem is child oriented, in the form of question and answer. The question, “Who made thee?” (1412; 1) is simple yet profound, as it can be seen as a typical question a child might ask, and it can also be viewed from a person of experience reflecting on their origins. The lamb, which symbolizes Jesus, is associated with tenderness, peace, and meekness, all of which are characteristics of childhood and Christianity.
“The Little Black Boy” is also told from the child’s perspective. This poem transcends race, as the black child learns to accept the differences between him and the English child. The black boy’s skin colour is “but a cloud” (1413;16), and minor in the grand reward of heaven. This poem, like “The Lamb”, confirms the significance of Christianity. Neither the black nor English child will be free unless they are released from the restraints of physical appearances. There is a naive blindness to the realities of oppression and racism in this poem as evidenced by the black child’s willingness to...