Criticism of Organized Religion in Little Boy Lost and Little Boy Found

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Criticism of Organized Religion in Little Boy Lost and Little Boy Found



Organized religion and its adversity to the natural world is a topic that William Blake addresses quite frequently in his writings. In "Little Boy Lost," from Songs of Innocence, Blake presents a young child, representing the fledgling mind, getting lost in the dark forest of the material world. The illustration at the top of the page shows the little boy being led by a light or spirit of some kind, the "vapour" that Blake later speaks of. The boy cries out to his father, not his biological father, but the priest that has been guiding him on his education of the world thus far. The priest is moving too fast for the boy and leaves him behind to wander through
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Blake begins the poem by stating that it is not possible to love another as much as yourself, and that thought is the highest of all human functions. This sets the stage for Blake's attack on religion's ideas of hierarchy and condemnation of rational thought. The next stanza describes the boy asking God, indicated by the capitalized "Father," how he could love him or another human more than a little bird picking up crumbs. The boy states that he loves God in and as much as a little bird. This echoes the naturalist ideas supported in the aforementioned poems. Blake seems to be saying that the proper way to worship and commune with God is by loving all natural beings, human and non-human. The priest, a symbol of organized religion that Blake so sharply critiques, overhears what the boy is saying and is infuriated by the idea that a person could worship God through nature, without ritual, politics, or human involvement, and that the boy dares use his mind to question what he has been taught. The priest makes the boy a martyr, preaching from his high pedestal of pomposity, and burns the boy, despite the cries of his family. The boy's curiosity and natural thinking have been squelched, and his imagination bound in iron chains. Blake closes the poem by asking if such things are done in…