O what a multitude they seem’d these flowers of London town Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands
In “Holy Thursday,” from Songs of Innocence, the speaker, a compassionate adult, appreciates the innocence of a group of orphan children attending church. The speaker also points out the realities of poverty: There are multitudes of orphans, all of whom are innocent angels yet most of whom are tightly controlled by the adults in charge of their care. The phrase “multitude of lambs” suggests not only innocence but also a flock herded together. “Seated in companies” serves as another clue that the children’s lives are strictly controlled.
My mother taught me underneath a tree And sitting down before the heat of day, She took me on her lap and kissed me, And pointing to the east began to say.
“The Little Black Boy” details a dialogue between a black boy and his mother. In the second stanza, the boy describes how his mother taught him certain life lessons. The poet describes a Madonna and child image. However, readers may note the bitter irony in the image because the boy and his mother are black, an irony that forces readers to acknowledge how skin color has been used for harm throughout history. In the poem, the mother represents both God’s love and human faith.
Well well go & play till the light fades away And then go home to bed The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh’d And all the hills ecchoed
The poem “The Nurse’s Song” is a ballad in dialogue form. Two voices speak in the poem: the nurse and the children she cares for. Here, in the poem’s last stanza, the nurse first tells the children to continue to play and then addresses the reader by summarizing the effect her decision had on the children and setting. The poem evokes feelings of joy and harmony with nature.