Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his priest and king, Who make up a heaven of our misery."
In these two poems, Mark Blake was allegorically relating the importance of God and religion in our lives. In The Little Black Boy, he gives an optimistic perception of God. The poem having the persona of an African child who questions his color and identity learns from his mother that God does not base his love on the color of one's skin. His mother also teaches him that the lives we have here on earth are temporary and but mere preparations of the rewards we will receive. Therefore, our appearance here on earth will not matter in heaven. What will be relevant as we meet God face-to-face is the endurance above sufferings that we experienced here on earth.
On the other hand, in The Chimney Sweeper, Blake gives a pessimistic perception of God. The poem is also coming from the persona of a black boy, but...
Unlike The Little Black Boy, Blake portrays a very deaf, blind, and passive God. Blake is obviously questioning the motives of the Church for not taking an active role in protecting and taking care of God's children. The poem even relates the sarcasm of how the Church teaches the parents to sing praises to God, yet somehow tolerates the parents' ignoring of their children's dire circumstances.
Clearly, these two poems have shown the relationship of religion and Romantic literature. If we are to follow the definition of Romanticism based on Encyclopedia Britannica (2006), then we would understand how the characteristics of Romanticism as depicting " intuition, imagination, and feeling" are integrated in Mark Blake's poems. As shown in The Little Black Boy and The Chimney Sweeper, poetry can also effectively convey different controversial and moral issues pertaining to religion, the role of the Church, the faces of God, and the impact of all these in our everyday lives.
Percy Bysshe Shelley. (2006). Retrieved December 13, 2006, from Representative Poetry Online
Romanticism. (2006) Retrieved on December 13, 2006, from Encyclopedia Britannica online. http://www.Encyclopediabritannica.com
William Blake poems. (2006). Retrieved December 13, 2006, at http://quotations.about.com/cs/poemlyrics/a/William_Blake.htm
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