Time element is important for any poem and no poet can escape responsibility to the social conditions prevailing in his era, howsoever forward looking he may be. “The Little Black Boy” by William Blake was published in Songs of Innocence in 1789. The life was grim for the…
Torture and suffering are too mild words to describe the economic and social conditions of the black families—men, women and children. The whites had absolute conviction that they were a superior race on all counts. Blake treads softly on a burning issue. Spirituality is ingrained in each and every stanza of the poem and the anguish felt by the poet as for the trials and tribulations of the black race is evident. He links spirituality and the injustice to the black race intelligently and opines how from the transcendental point of view such differentiation is untenable. In spiritual terms black denotes sin and evil; white refers to nobility, purity and innocence.
The approach of William Blake to the burning issue of racism is mild and not revolutionary. I have substituted the last four lines of the poem to provide it the necessary punch on an issue that has international ramifications. The issue of friendship between a black boy and a white boy has been introduced by the poet to throw light on the issue. I am not disputing the details related to the issue as perceived by the poet, but the solution part of it needs more authenticity. To suppose that the white race will accept the concept of equality with love is to live in fool’s paradise. Their vital economic interests are involved in the issue. Christian ideals also did very little to influence their mindset and those who have read the history related to slavery in America, do well know that how majority of the white clergy took the side of the white race. The first line of my changed version, “You’re my dear friend, not the cherished principle,” indicates the definite stand on the issue taken by the black boy. As an individual, he values friendship but when it comes to principle, he will side with the black race. He has to—with no other alternative.
Why it is so? The second line makes the emphatic assertion and it contains a mild warning to the white race about the plight of the black race, if ...
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