Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence and of Experience Summary and Analysis of "The Little Girl Lost" and "The Little Girl Found"


These two poems parallel the similarly titled “Little Boy Lost” and “Little Boy Found” of Songs of Innocence. In fact, these two poems were originally written for Songs of Innocence, but were moved to Songs of Experience due to their eschatological themes. In the first stanza, Blake returns to his prophetic voice from the first two poems, envisioning a future in which the Earth has been unbound from the chains of Reason and seeks her creator. In that day, the wild desert in which the little girl will wander later in the poem becomes “a garden mild.” The seven-year-old girl, Lyca, represents the human soul, lost and wandering “in desert wild” as she searches for meaning or solace. Unlike the “Little Boy” poems, Lyca’s parents seek after her with desperate hearts. In her wandering, Lyca cannot rest as long as her mother weeps for her. Eventually her mother stops weeping long enough for the girl to go to sleep, and it is here that she finds the beginning of her own paradise. The wild animals, most notably a lion and lioness, surround Lyca’s sleeping form but cannot or will not harm her because she is a virgin. The lion, an echo of the protective king of beasts from “Night” in Songs of Innocence, weeps “ruby tears” while the lioness disrobes Lyca, symbolically removing her soul from her material body in death. The lions then take Lyca to their cave to sleep.

The second poem follows the parents in their search for Lyca. They grow increasingly desperate, a state that is only increased when they dream of her starving in the desert. They encounter the lion, who at first knocks them to the ground then stalks around them. Smelling their scent, or more likely the scent of their daughter Lyca, the lion licks their hands and speaks to them, telling them to cease weeping and follow him to his “palace” wherein their daughter rests “among tygers wild.” The parents follow the lion and spend the rest of their days in the lion’s “lonely dell” fearing neither wolf nor lion.


"The Little Girl Lost" is unusual in that it is a thirteen-stanza poem, which does not follow the tradition that "perfect" poetry has evenly balanced stanzas. Each stanza follows an AABB rhyme scheme, with the word "asleep" or "sleep" making up many of the rhymes through frequent repetition. The sibilance of these words contributes to the dreamlike quality of the poem.

"The Little Girl Found" is also thirteen stanzas, also following the AABB rhyme scheme. "Sleep" and "Asleep" are again repeated, but not as much as in the former poem, indicating that this poem takes place in the waking world more than in the dream world of Lyca's rest. The latter poem focuses on the parents, who are representatives of Experience in many ways, and who are still woefully inadequate in caring for their child. Consequently, it uses rougher words ("shriek," "ground," "moan," "sore") to complete the rhyming couplets.

The lion again represents Jesus Christ, as both the image of the lion of the tribe of Judah and his own reference to a palace indicate. The innocent child is taken from her earthly suffering by death and given comfort and rest for eternity. The parents, dedicated to finding their lost daughter, are similarly rewarded, although the poem is reticent on the details: do they cease from fears because they are in paradise, or simply because they are dead? Either way, their suffering is ended by a more dangerous vision of God than that often presented in the Christianity of Blake’s day.