Treasure Island

William Blake

(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 / London)

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A Little Boy Lost


Nought loves another as itself,
Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought
A greater than itself to know.

'And, father, how can I love you
Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
That picks up crumbs around the door.'

The Priest sat by and heard the child;
In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,
And all admired the priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,
'Lo, what a fiend is here! said he:
'One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy mystery.'

The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They stripped him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain,

And burned him in a holy place
Where many had been burned before;
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such thing done on Albion's shore?

Submitted: Wednesday, May 09, 2001
Edited: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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  • Tuesday Crixus (1/16/2014 1:31:00 PM)

    I feel that this poem describes how people often put religion before basic morals, and in doing so they are actually defying the religion. Isn't the base of most religions, especially Christianity, be good to one another? Yet through out history, people have been tortured and killed, all in the name of their peace loving religion. (Report) Reply

  • Mike Barrett (1/15/2014 10:08:00 AM)

    An amazing poem, not only for it's composition but for its content.

    The Priest sat by and heard the child;
    In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
    He led him by his little coat,
    And all admired the priestly care.

    And standing on the altar high,
    'Lo, what a fiend is here! said he:
    'One who sets reason up for judge
    Of our most holy mystery.'

    The weeping child could not be heard,
    The weeping parents wept in vain:
    They stripped him to his little shirt,
    And bound him in an iron chain,

    And burned him in a holy place
    Where many had been burned before;
    The weeping parents wept in vain.
    Are such thing done on Albion's shore?

    There was a time when religious authorities had the power to slay those they accused of being heretics, in my universe, unthinkable! An amazing write, but then, William Blake was quite an amazing Soul! (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (1/15/2013 1:20:00 AM)

    i remember reading love your neighbor as yourself..
    since we all originate from the same ultimate source..
    and no man is without sin..a well written poem! (Report) Reply

  • Constance K Yost (1/15/2011 1:41:00 PM)

    I don't care for this poem...see enough of terrible stuff on daily news, don't really
    need it my poetry readings. Constance (Report) Reply

  • Kenny Arnold (7/2/2010 8:11:00 AM)

    religion/homophobia/mother was catholic, married C of E her sister married a Jew. In England through the ages religion has been involved, thank god(no pun intended) its starting to abate (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (1/15/2010 11:55:00 PM)

    What strong and perfect references - I love Blake's style.
    Too bad freedom isnt' always free. On the other hand, not everyone is bound to reason. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (1/15/2010 9:28:00 AM)

    The first two lines are a rebuttal of Jesus’ “love your neighbour as yourself.” The second two lines a rebuttal of metaphysical religion. The third two lines echo Cordelia's reply to King Lear when he asks what can she say to outdo her sisters’ exaggerated declarations of love for him:

    Cordelia: Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth: I love your Majesty
    According to my bond, no more nor less

    The reasonableness of Cordelia condemns her in the eyes of Lear. And the child is condemned for its reasonableness (in Blake’s eyes) by the Church which will condemn the child to eternity in the fires of Hell for it. The spirit of the Enlightenment is in this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (1/15/2010 12:41:00 AM)

    Love is love whether it is self love or natural love! How can a boy be selfless in love without the growth of knowledge and wisdom so early? Love itself is an individual emotional feeling which is believed to be a 'holy mystery'! Without loving oneself how can one love family and others in the world? A little boy is an innocent being! Such an extreme punishment of burning alive to death is no love at all in any sense! Natural love is real love which everyone should understand and practise in life to know the awesome nature of this holy mystery ever! (Report) Reply

  • Dhulckiphla Ubsaar (5/8/2009 12:45:00 AM)

    yes, such things ARE done on Albion's shore and everywhere else in the world. we have all come a long way since Blake but it seems all the 'development' and changes that have taken place are only an illusion. we have not changed. nothing has changed. Blake's world is our world and vice-versa. the only difference is that he mourned the loss of innocence and we are totally indifferent to it.Alas! what a gory state of affairs!
    Blake's prophecies were not the product of an insane, crazy mind. we are all living in hell and we don't even realize that!
    humanoids. (Report) Reply

Read all 15 comments »

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