?The Lamb? And ?The Tyger? By William Blake Essay, Research Paper
The Lamb and The Tyger
In the poems “The Lamb” and “The Tyger,” William Blake uses symbolism, tone, and rhyme to advance the theme that God can create good and bad creatures. The poem “The Lamb” was in Blake’s “Songs of Innocence,” which was published in 1789. “The Tyger,” in his “Songs of Experience,” was published in 1794. In these contrasting poems he shows symbols of what he calls “the two contrary states of the human soul” (Shilstone 1).
In “The Lamb,” Blake uses the symbol of the lamb to paint a picture of innocence. The lamb is a symbol of Jesus Christ. The lamb is also a symbol of life. It provides humans with food, clothing, and other things humans need to survive. The line “For he calls himself a Lamb” is a line that Jesus himself has used (Blake 538). A lamb is a very meek and mild creature, which could be why Blake chose to use this animal to describe God’s giving side. He even refers to God as being meek and mild in line fifteen: “He is meek, and he is mild.” Blake wants to show his readers that God is vengeful but a forgiven and loving creator.
In “The Tyger,” William Blake takes the opposite position he did in “The Lamb.” In “The Tyger,” Blake shows the God has created a sort of evil creature in the tiger. Blake compares God to a blacksmith when he made the tiger. He does this by using lines like “What the hammer,” “What the chain,” “In what furnace was thy brain,” What the anvil”(Blake 539). By asking these questions Blake shows us that God must have been a blacksmith because of the use of words like anvil, hammer and furnace. These are all things that blacksmiths use. The tiger is a violent stalker of his prey and by definition a blacksmith is a violent profession. When Blake says “what immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry” (Blake 538), he is referring to God. Blake is wondering how some immortal thing could create a beast like the tiger. According to Blake this creature has a special “inner” source of energy which distinguishes its existence from the cold and dark world of inanimate things (Blake 3). There is also an essence of the devil in the tiger. William Blake points this out by using words like furnace and just by him picking a tiger. There are many other violent predators out in the jungle but he chose the tiger because of its bright orange and black. When it runs it looks like a fireball. In line twenty of “The Tyger,” William Blake says, “Did He who make the lamb make thee?” (Blake 539). What he is wondering is if he made such an innocent creature like the lamb how could he make a beast like the tiger?
Persona is an important concept in these poems. “The Lamb” could be read as a nursery rhyme to little children. The persona of this poem is one of a little child talking to a lamb. The persona of “The Lamb” is shown in line seventeen, “I a child, and thou a lamb.” The persona helps Blake to show that God made such a harmless creature like the lamb and such a pure child. The reader knows that God made both these creatures because the line “Little Lamb, who made thee?”(Blake 538) is repeated throughout the poem. The child is a symbol of purity so that is why Blake chose to use a child as the persona rather than a grown up. The child is describing to the lamb who made him: We know this because in the second stanza the child describes the giver of life, clothing, and food. This is a way to describe the lamb and also to describe God. God is the provider of light, food, clothing to all the people of the earth and the lamb also creates a lot of these things for humans. In the fifth stanza the child tells the lamb who made him. The child says, “He is called by thy name, he calls himself a lamb, and he is meek and mild. He became a little child and we are called by his name” (Blake 538). When he says he is a lamb that means that God calls himself a provider for the galaxy. When he says he is meek and mild the child is referring to a God that does no harm to people, one that is only out to help people. “He became a little child” it is suggests that God is the little child and he is talking directly to the lamb.
Now in “The Tyger,” the persona is very different. It is of an older person looking at a tiger and wondering who made this creature. The persona helps to contrast “The Lamb” and also helps to show that God does have a more vengeful side to him. In this poem the person speaking is asking a lot of questions like what immortal hand or eye framed such a fearful creature and if he was happy with his creation. These are the two most repeated lines in the poem. From the second stanza to the fifth stanza the person is questions who made this animal. This person is comparing the animal to fire and that whoever made it is probably a violent creator. The persona differs greatly from “The Lamb.” This may have been because of the five years that has passed between the poem. Blake may have had a bad experience with God in that five-year gap so he looks at him not as meek or mild but violent and pitiless. This person is probably having a conversation with God because you get him asking a lot of questions and there are no answers coming back to him. The persona of these two poems has helped William Blake creature the picture of good and evil.
Rhyme is an important part of these poems. Rhyme helps to stress the point that God has created good and bad things. In “ The Lamb” the word thee is often repeated in the poem. The word thee is also known to mean you. When the child is talking to the lamb he is like do you know who made thee. The reason for this is to make the reader think of who has created them. The rhyme in “The Lamb” is very simple. The first and second lines rhyme while the third and fourth lines rhyme. This is done simple because Blake wanted the reading of this poem to be simple but still has a very unique and powerful message to it. The words that rhyme are not big words but words that would be used in a child’s book. Words like mild, child, bright, delight, feed, and mead are very simple and easy to tell they rhyme. This helps the reader relate to the purity that is represented in the poem.
The rhyme scheme in “The Tyger” is also of a very elementary style. The reason for the rhyme scheme is the same as it was for “The Lamb.” They both are done to make you really think twice when you read the poem. At first reading you may miss the whole theme that the poems are about but then after a reading or two the profound message jumps out at you.
In conclusion, the symbols, persona, and rhyme of the poems each add to the theme it portrays. It is a poem about the existence of God and whether he creates both good and bad things. The persona is both of a young child in “The Lamb” and an older person in “The Tyger,” which shows that when little God can be mild, but when older he is more unforgiving. Also, the symbols of the lamb and the tiger are to show the good and bad sides of God. And finally, the rhyme is simple to help make the impact greater. “The Lamb and The Tyger” are poems about the good and bad things that God has created.