Religion in Blake's Poetry.

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Referring to three poems of your choice, consider the nature of Blake’s views on religion. Blake often attacked conventional religion in his day and were often seen incredibly shocking, although his rejection of religiosity was not him rejecting it as such. He often puts religious imagery in his poems, using characters to represent figureheads in Christianity such as the Shepherd representing God in the poem ‘The Shepherd’. The poem ‘The Little Black Boy’ shows the conflict between races in religion, suggesting that people of black nationality are of a lesser standard and inferior to whites; throughout the poem the black boy is comparing himself to the white child and wanting to be friends. The poems ‘Little Boy Lost’ and ‘Little Boy Found’ are both poems that show imagery talking about disillusionment in your faith and losing sight of the path of life that lies ahead; however, it also teaches that there can be a saving grace for everyone if you follow the right path – ‘led by the wand’ring light’.

The poem ‘The Shepherd’ depicts a shepherd watching over his flock. The poem has a narrative voice in the poem, and this appears to represent God watching over the world and the people that inhabit it; the continuous use of referring to the shepherd as ‘he’ and ‘his’ could also be comparing him to God as he is never given a proper name. The lambs and ewes in the poem could possibly represent the mothers and children of the Earth; ‘for he hears the lambs innocent call/and he hears the ewes tender reply’ could be the mothers and children praying to God for protection. The shepherd is watching the flock, but could also be doing more than just watching over, but could also possibly be admiring and idealising the sheep - he is ‘watchful’ and learning from them on how to achieve peace and how to become part of a serene family that works together to protect each other; the shepherd could be protecting the sheep literally from predators such as wolves, but metaphorically...
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