Children of the future Age,
Reading this indignant page;
Know that in a former time
Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime.
In the Age of Gold,
Free from winters cold:
Youth and maiden bright,
To the holy light,
Naked in the sunny beams delight.
Once a youthful pair
Fill’d with softest care:
Met in garden bright,
Where the holy light,
Had just removed the curtains of the night.
Then, in rising day,
On the grass they play:
Parents were afar:
Strangers came not near:
And the maiden soon forgot her fear.
Tired with kisses sweet
They agree to meet,
When the silent sleep
Waves o’er heavens deep;
And the weary tired wanderers weep.
To her father white
Came the maiden bright:
But his loving look,
Like the holy book,
All her tender limbs with terror shook.
Ona! pale and weak!
To thy father speak:
O the trembling fear!
O the dismal care!
That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair
I found this poem interesting and somewhat different from most of the poems in the Songs of Innocence and Experience. Blake starts the poem with an introductory stanza where he addresses the poem to the readers of “the future Age.” None of the other poems are addressed in this manner, even though, in “The Little Girl Lost” (a poem similar in title), Blake begins by stating that he has a vision of the future. So there is that parallel between the two poems.
In this poem, Blake presents sexual love as something natural and beautiful between two young people. When the maiden returns home, flush with the glow of love, her father is immediately angered. His thoughts and emotions are controlled by the “holy book,” implying that religious dogma is what dictates his actions more so than compassion and understanding for what his daughter is experiencing.
I referred to the endnotes in my copy of the book to find out more about the maiden’s name—Ona. Geoffrey Keynes, the commentator on my version of the text, asserts that the name is “perhaps the feminine form of One” and may be a “poetic conception of the feminine principle.” I kind of like this interpretation. I view the divine as a dyad, containing masculine and feminine aspects. I would like to think that Blake also recognized the divine feminine as part of the One.
As I read this today, I couldn’t help thinking about the controversy regarding marriage equality and gay rights. I suspect that the “Children of the future Age” will also look back at this time in history and wonder how laws could be considered that deny a person’s right to love another.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my thoughts. Cheers!
2 responses to ““A Little Girl Lost” by William Blake”
This is a beautiful poem by Blake dear Jeff… And your analysis is very deep and interesting as always… I much enjoyed Geoffrey Keynes’ interpretation and your insights at the end…
Thank you . All the best to you!, Aquileana 😀
Thanks Aquileana. I usually hate and thus skip “academic analysis” included in texts: way too wordy and very little substance. Keynes is not that way. He is clear and concise, usually no more than one paragraph per poem.