The Little Black Boy

The Little Black Boy


  • “The Little Black Boy” is a thought-provoking poem by William Blake, appearing in his collection “Songs of Innocence”.
  • It explores themes of racial inequality and the role of Christian faith in dealing with the indignities of life.
  • The poem presents the point of view of an African boy who learns a vital lesson on equality and love from his mother.


  • The “Black Boy” symbolises the oppressed and the marginalised, specifically referring to slaves in the contemporary context of Blake’s era.
  • Heat of the sun represents hardships and trials experienced in life.
  • God’s light, the divine radiance, represents equality and hope, emphasising the celestial equality of all souls.


  • Racial Equality: This poem is a poignant commentary on the racial disparities of the era, stressing on the equality of souls in the eyes of God.
  • Innocence and Experience: The naive perception of the black boy and the wisdom imparted by his mother juxtapose innocence and experience.
  • Christian Teachings: Christian principles and beliefs are a mainstay throughout the poem, evident in the black boy’s understanding of his path to divine love and equality.


  • Visual Imagery: Illustrations of the boy under a burning sun, the boy’s mother under the tree, and the vision of God, are all inherently vivid and evocative.
  • Tactile Imagery: The mention of ‘black bodies and sunburnt face’ evoke sense of touch.


  • The black boy’s belief that black skin is a result of longer exposure to God’s love and light is a poignant metaphor for enduring hardship to attain divine enlightenment.

Rhyme and Meter

  • The poem follows an AABB rhyme scheme, adding a sing-song quality which can be seen as ironic given the heavy themes.
  • Consisting mostly of quatrains, the poem uses iambic tetrameter and trimeter to draw attention to significant lines.


  • A crucial biographical detail is that Blake was a vocal critic of slavery and the poem must be understood in the context of the widespread racial inequality in his time.
  • “The Little Black Boy” is part of the “Songs of Innocence” collection. This context emphasises Blake’s exploration of innocence confronting the harsh realities of life.

The above points aim to provide groundwork for a comprehensive and thorough evaluation of “The Little Black Boy” by William Blake.