In Search of 'The Little Black Boy' and his Self-Image in Blake's Poem: A Fictional Mind Style

Saraç Durgun H. S.

The Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA) Conference: Style and Sense(s), Aix-En-Provence, France, 6 - 09 July 2022, pp.30

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Aix-En-Provence
  • Country: France
  • Page Numbers: pp.30
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


The Little Black Boy is a poem published in Songs of Innocence by William Blake in1789. In this poem, we perceive Blake’s critical literary stance towards the time when the outright racist thoughts about the immigrants from Africa, ”the southern wild,” were rampant in the 18th century. This study aims to identify a stylistic analysis of the poem to distinguish the representation of the poetic persona’s mind style on his self-image. Through four stanzas, readers hear the poetic hero’s voice on his self-image within the text. A stylistic analysis of these stanzas clarifies his perception and the characteristic features of his voice conveyed through ellipsis, relational opposites, and metaphors. It is observed that the voice strips off his existence from the syntax while having identifications on his self-perception. This absence created by the stylistic device, ellipsis, erases out the persona from the script; nevertheless, this enables him to speak out his mind associatively. The hero syntactically exists through a complete noun phrase in the title of the poem. Yet, his mind style is overheard within the poem through his voice which downsizes his existence to a part of speech only, namely an adjectival: ‘black.’ The recurrent stylistic features in the poem delineate his mind style regarding the imposed self-value and self-image. The stylistic choice concretizes both the persona’s mind style and how he backgrounds himself within the text.

Keywords: Mindstyle, self, image, Blake, stylistics