A little boy cannot keep up with his father, so he cries out for the older man to slow down or speak to him so he can find his way. No one answers and the darkness rolls in, so the boy begins to weep.
In the companion poem, God hears the little boy’s weeping and appears to him in the image of his father dressed in white. He leads the boy home to his mother, whom the boy greets with weeping.
Both “The Little Boy Lost” and “The Little Boy Found” are two-stanza poems composed of two quatrains. The first poem has an erratic rhyme scheme, ABCD ABCB (although it is possible line 2's “fast” is a slant rhyme with line 4's “lost,” making the first stanza ABCB). By contrast, the second poem is clearly ABCB in both stanzas. The first poem's near rhyme adds to the tone of discomfort and fear the boy feels toward his too-quick father. The second poem's rhyme is more easily identified, making it seem more organized and “right” to the reader's senses.
The little boy of these two poems represents the human soul or spirit, seeking God the Father in a sin-wracked world that seeks to obliterate the signs of His presence. In the first of the two poems, the boy calls out to his earthly father, but is left behind to fend for himself. Blake suggests that earthly religious practices, philosophies, or institutions cannot lead the soul to absolute truth and peace. In following the “father” of the world, the boy only becomes more lost.
It is only through the intervention of God Himself in the second poem that the child returns to a state of safety, possibly intended to suggest the salvation of the regenerate soul, in the arms of a maternal figure. The nurturing mother is able to give comfort where the earthly father and or the society created by such men only offer abandonment and hopelessness. That it is the female figure who actually comforts the boy is telling. Blake may be suggesting a stronger healing power within “mother earth” than within the “father church” of his day. He may also be seeking to balance the male and female aspects of creation: the male, in this case God the Father, leads the soul to its destination, while the female passively awaits the soul to offer it bliss. Nonetheless, the mother figure is more positively represented in these two poems.