Childhood through the Eyes of Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge
English Literature II, Eng 212
September 30, 2016
In the era of Romanticism, childhood was viewed as a special time where the mind was free of worldly convictions and perspectives. Children were thought to be able to see the world through an unbiased lens that many adults cannot; this is why poets of the Romantic Era became fascinated with the purity of childhood. In the poems of William Blake, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, they express time and again the enthrallment that they have with the idea of childhood.
Through the eyes of William Blake, the spirit of a child is celestial in nature. Often times, he will depict a child as being divine and similar in nature to that of God. In The Lamb, he says “I a child and thou a lamb, / We are called by his name.”[footnoteRef:1] Here, Blake is creating the image of the child being synonymous to the lamb, and implying that they are both reflective of God, and Jesus, who is known by many as “The Lamb of God”. Therefore, by likening the spirit of children to God, Blake believes that the state of being in childhood is a holy and innocent time. Using the lamb as a symbol, he portrays children as a reflection of pure souls, similar to the Son of God. From this purity and innocence comes joy; this is why, in his opinion, adolescents experience such joy in the simple things. [1: William Blake, "The Lamb," The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2 (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: 2012), 120.]
In the works of Wordsworth, the theme of childhood is closely linked to the idea of raw emotion. He perceives children as being able to clearly sense the world, whereas entering adulthood can alter the way an individual connects with the world. The raw and unfiltered lens that a child views the world from is powerful and could derive joy from even the simplest of things, but mostly from nature. In his poem Ode, Wordsworth confesses that “…trailing clouds of glory do we come / From God, who is our home: / Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”[footnoteRef:2] Evidently, he believes that children are more connected to the world that God created, because he believes that we are born “trailing clouds of glory” from heaven. In this sense, Wordsworth is implying that in childhood, individuals are more in tune with God’s grace and with the...