Pg. 132 of English Victorian Poetry
My little Son, who look'd from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey'd,
I struck him, and dismiss'd
With hard words and unkiss'd,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
In the beginning, the son looked to his father with great respect and obedience. However, with the death of the son’s mother, the boy began to lash out and defy his father. The father eventually sought action by punishing the son.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
I visited his bed, But found him slumbering deep,
With darken'd eyelids, and their lashes yet
From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
Eventually the boy found fear in his father, begging for forgiveness. The son wept, ashamed of his behavior. The father, looking at his son and seeing him cry, or gives him.
For, on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-vein'd stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells,
A bottle with bluebells,
Next to the boy are his toys. The son has turned to the comforts of his toys as a way of easing the pain of his mother’s death. In doing so, the boy paid more attention to what he valued, over the respect of his father
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I pray'd
To God, I wept, and said:
Ah, when at last we lie with trancèd breath,
Not vexing Thee in death,
The son is sorry for his selfish behavior. He is sorry for how he has wronged his father
And Thou rememberest of what toys
We made our joys, How weakly understood
Thy great commanded good,
Then, fatherly not less
Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay,
Thou'lt leave Thy wrath, and say,
'I will be sorry for their childishness.'
The son has become distracted by his belonging and has forgotten what is important. The son is acting selfish and immature. Despite the son’s faults, the father understands and forgives his son, and chooses to love him any way.
Analysis: The poem is about God’s love and the antipathy of man. The father represents God, the son’s creator, and the son represents man. The toys are a symbol of idolatry. Through out history, man has found comfort in false idols as a way of dealing with pain and in doing so, moving away from his creator. The son has turned to his toys as a way of dealing with the loss of his mother. However, this new found value has distracted him from his father (God). Despite how the son’s faults, the father (God) kisses him (blesses him) as a sign of forgiveness. The creator's concern for His creation and the creation's antipathy to the love of God are manifested in this poem. The slumber of the child represents the forgetfulness and the sheer childish callousness of children towards elders