The Blind Boy

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The Blind Boy By: Colley Cibber O say what is that thing call’d Light, Which I must ne’er enjoy; What are the blessings of the sight, O tell your poor blind boy! You talk of wondrous things you see, You say the sun shines bright; I feel him warm, but how can he Or make it day or night? My day or night myself I make Whene’re I sleep or play; And could I ever keep awake With me ‘twer always day. With heavy sighs I often hear You mourn my hapless woe; But sure with patience I can bear A loss I ne’er can know. Then let not what I cannot have My cheer of mind destroy: Whilst thus I sing, I am a king, Although a poor blind boy.

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What is most difficult for the boy to understand?

It is most difficult for him to grasp the concept of light.(Light can only be experienced by seeing)

How does the boy distinguish between night and day?

He distinguishes between night and day through his own activities; his periods of sleep are called night; his periods of activity are called day. His internal clock is not regulated by the presence or absence of light.(The blind boy choses his sleep/wake cycles. They aren't controlled by night/day like with people who see)

When does the blind boy feel that he is king?

He feels that he is a king as long as he accepts his situation. He sings a song of faith in his ability to find happiness, regardless of his disability.(The boy is happy, many people with sight find things to be unhappy about, yet the boy chooses to make the best of his situation)

What is the effect of the use of the first person narrator?

A first-person narrative is one that is related by "I", a character in the work. Critics often speak of the first person narrator as giving the work its vision and its voice. The voice in "The Blind Boy" is that of a poor, young blind boy. Paradoxically, this blind boy shares his "vision" of the world with us.(The use of a first-person narrator allows the boy to convey his own thoughts and feeling. If someone told his story the feeling would be lost.)

Why is it easy for the blind boy to "bear a loss" he "ne'er can know"?

Had the boy lost his sight, he would always have regretted that loss. However, since he was born blind, he never experienced the world of sight and has come to accept what he cannot change. The listener/reader feels the pain more than the boy does. (The reader feels pain because he has sight and knows what a loss it would be)

What do we know of the person to whom the poem is addressed?

We are not given many details about the listener, but it is apparent that he can see and that he has attempted to share the world of sight with the poor blind boy. More importantly from the "sighs" that he utters and from the fact that he "mourns" the blind boy's lack of vision, we sense that he is sympathetic to the blind boy.(The listener can imagine what it would be like to suddenly not be able to see, but the blind boy has nothing to compare his situation to.)

Is "Light" a thing? Why is it written with a capital L?

Cibber uses the word "thing" to show how impossible it is for the blind boy to understand the abstract concept of light. The boy has heard the word, has heard others discussing light and darkness, but remains for a him a "thing" that he cannot comprehend. The capital "L" calls attention to this central word and underlines both its immeasurable value and the unbridgeable gap between light and the boys experience.

Who is the "you" that the boy is addressing?

The boy is talking to somebody who has spoken of light and the things that can be seen in the world, but the word "you" also brings the reader directly into the conversation.(People with sight)

What is difficult for the blind boy to understand?

The boy can understand the sensation of warmth. However, a complete understanding of day and night and the relationship between light and warmth requires the ability to distinguish between darkness and light. This is impossible for the blind boy to do.

What do day and night mean to the blind boy?

The boy arbitrarily choses the time for sleep and play. These activities are not based on external factors. Night for him occurs when he falls asleep. If he could stay awake, day would last forever. (His day keeps going until he decides he's tired, the sun/moon don't decide his day for him)

Who is sighing heavily (line 13)?

It becomes increasingly clear that the person being addressed by the boy feels the tragedy of the boy's blindness more strongly than the boy himself. Thus, the "heavy sighs" are those of the listener. (The blind boy cannot miss something he never had)

Why does the boy feel like a king?

The boy is determined not to yearn for that which is impossible to attain. He has decided he will not allow his disability to make him feel depressed. As long as he does not allow depression to overcome him, he is king.