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Little Vagabond, The Analysis

Author: Poetry of William Blake Type: Poetry Views: 1400

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Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,

But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;

Besides I can tell where I am used well,

Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

But if at the church they would give us some ale,

And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,

We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,

Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

Then the parson might preach, and drink, and sing,

And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;

And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,

Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see

His children as pleasant and happy as he,

Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,

But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Or--merely pointing out the sins of drink-- how one might easily become child-like in an attemt to seek an escape from responsibilites--in the ale-house, equate drunk and merry as joy, a passion for life, God and one\'s fellow man. The reality, as Blake was aware, is a false one, where the ale-house dwellers wake to a stark reality, a world of depression and desperation, a filling of a pail that is emptied daily; a few moments of selfish pleasure are negated by debauchery, infidelity, poverty etc. One has to consider what went on in an ale-house in Blake\'s day. Lives and families were torn apart. Men left work and spent their money in the ale-house on drink, women etc. His poem, then, is a satirical one, framed in simplified lyrics suggesting a naivete that is innocent. Yet, the speaker is an adult who knows right and wrong, should know better than to draw parallels between a church of worship and an ale-house. Blake might have been pining for more community in church, considering, in small part, the gathering in the ale-house is one of brotherhood and friendship, initially, until it becomes a brawl.

| Posted on 2013-03-16 | by a guest

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Blake is trying to highlight through the use of an innocent, young child\'s voice that the Church was not how it should have been. His juxtaposition between the \"cold\" and \"warm\" emphasises how different the two places were, and this is highlighted further by the lack of rhyme, where as the rest of the poem is written in rhyming couplets.
He uses words like \"We\'d\" and \"might\" to show how this is not the current case and how the Church needs to change. Blake hated how controlling the church was, especially towards children and dreamt of a time when people were \"as happy as birds in the spring\", as joy, in his mind, was what God wanted for us.
He describes the Ale house as \"healthy\" which suggests that the Church was the antithesis of each other.
The fact that \"modest dame Lurch\" is \"always at church\" and beats her children shows the indoctrination and the attitude of the church towards children at the time.
This is backed up in poems such as \'A Little Boy Lost\' where the Priest burns a child for questioning God. This poem was a critique of the catechism of the church.

| Posted on 2012-05-28 | by a guest

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Blake uses the Ale house and the church in these poem. where by in the church people keep malice but in the Ale house it full of free minded people who will not have any malice against themselves they only come to enjoy, have some fun to the fullest no rules and regulations to follow in the Ale house, But in the church their Rigid rules to follow.

| Posted on 2010-02-16 | by a guest

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Blake is using the Little Vagabond to express his ideas towards organised religion. It seeems as though the child lives in th church but is begging his mother to take him back to the ale-house. Blake's view is that people should praise God because they want to and in any way they chose because it is an declaration of their love for him. It is not a schedule that needs to be followed; people forget the real reason why they are praising God because people believe it is. He gives an example; the "modest dame" who is doing the work of God by working in a church, but she beats the children and lets them starve; this is clearly not a christian thing to do. Not only does she let them starve but she makes them believe that they are "fasting". The narrator also indirectly tells us that the Parson and the dame are not "as happy as birds in spring" because they see doing God's work as an exertion rather than something they want to do. Blake uses the vagabond to emphasise the innocence in children because unlike the adults they have not lost their way and he is able to think up a solution for God and the Devil's "quarrel"! His childish nature is shown by the fact that he sees what ale does to people in the ale-house and tries to apply this to the church life; they are happy so the church should be too.
The rhyming couplets, rhythm and the tone of the poem all emphasise his innocence and his jovial character.

| Posted on 2009-02-04 | by a guest

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This poem is light hearted but has a deeper meaning. The point the child is trying to make is that worship should be a pleasure not a trial. In developing his argument he also emphasises the hypocrisy of the church, with "dame Lurch" and her "birch", whipping is not a normal connatation with christian values and this lady seems to only do "good" things to present an appearance to the community. This is truly loosing touch with faith, even though at first glance it seems the child has done so, but they have not just with an institution.

| Posted on 2006-06-20 | by Approved Guest

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lol very cute, and very fun. i love the back beat ^-^ it's most catchy.
i love how he uses cold vs warm to depict the harsh judgement of the church vs the inviting openess of the ale-house. it makes me feel warm all over and smile at the thought of all those happy drunks singing and swaying and praying.
i also like the way, in the last stanza, he suggests that if the church were more open and less harsh to judge that it might not only please God, but also that love and openness might rid the world of the struggle between good and evil. embracing the devil perhaps, but ceasing the battle just the same. ^-^

| Posted on 2005-10-07 | by TT

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