The Analysis of The Tiger and The Lamb by William Blake.
William Blake used his poems to criticize the society that featured themselves as almost perfect, a nation that operated on technology and not by its own will. He aimed to prompt individuals to question the authenticity of their actions and whether they were morally upright. Being the first generation Romantic poet, Black utilized different techniques that contrasted realities and ideologies, such that we could see the immortal world and a sacred society that was not technologically corrupt, but quiet and peaceful. Both “The Lamb” and :The Tyger” are part of one big collection called the Songs of innocence and the songs of Experience. This paper will analyze each poem in the attempt to show the different states of integrity and experience as well as the association between the two.
The poem “The Lamb” is one of the simplest yet meaningful works of Blake. The symbols of a child, lamb, and Christ represents the aspect of innocence in its entirety. The first stanza shows the directness of the child at the beginning of the poem with no signs of maturity as he addresses the lamb as “ little lamb who made thee” with a child’s, diction and rhythm. The poet points out that the lamb has “clothing of delight” and “Soft clothing wooly bright.” He also asks who gave the lamb its feet to go and feed in the meadow (Blake). In the second stanza, the poet supplies the answers to the inquiries he makes in the previous stanza. He mentions that the creator of the lamb is also “a Lamb” portraying the realistic and sympathetic nature of the creator.
The tone in the poem is reflective, comforting and reassuring, having been taken from the Songs of Innocence. The lamb is a mark of spirituality symbolizing freedom and incorruptibility just like Jesus Christ, who is represented by the lamb. The poem offers an aura of happiness, pleasure, and joy, same as heaven or a soul that has not been tainted by the conventionalized aspects such as culture, religion, and society. Also, Blake has correctly used an apostrophe, a literary device used when the poet converses directly with a person, idea or a thing that cannot respond. He directly speaks to the lamb and asks questions repeatedly, bringing out the effects of the apostrophe in the tone of the poem.
Furthermore, Blake has used imagery to describe the nature of the lamb. Though the poet speaks of the physical lamb on the surface, the subtext of the poem is generated from classical mythology and Christianity. The lamb, the child, and Christ are all associated with creativity, the child being the occupation, involving the natural spirit, wonder, and untainted imagination.
In “The Tygar,” William Blake wonders how the source of goodness and innocence can also be instrumental in the creation of evil and violence. Similarly to other songs of innocence and experience, the poem consists of a combination of symbolism and metaphor. Its poetic methods trigger a vivid image portraying the Tyger as a ferocious and terrible creature causing the speaker to ask “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”. The inclusion of similies, rhyme, allusion, symbolism, and repetition brings out a clear image of the Tyger, but a less vivid of its maker. However, the poet talks of God when he questions the nature of the immortal hands that created the evil animal. William Blake also refers to tools used by the Creator such as the chain, hammer, anvil and the furnace, characterizing God as a blacksmith (Blake). Therefore, the creation of the Tyger can be comprehended as acts of creative agents, inspiring people to be free from all manner of captivity. The forest as used in the poem symbolizes adulterated society that suppresses human potentials and “night” shows ignorance from which corrupted societal paradigms are formulated. The poet’s questions are alternative to old theoretical and philosophical inquiries. There are no answers to the questions asked; however, Blake reflects reality as he captures images.
The fire represents numerous ideas as a metaphor. It relates to the fairness and sublimity of the Tyger given its hugeness, prowess, and mystery. Fire is also perceived as the source of energy, therefore, energizing the tiger. On the other hand, the poet refers to the fire as a source of life by which the Tyger was formed. Given that the whole poem addresses the Tyger, apostrophy has helped to bring the subject to life, instead of taking a general approach. The questions asked are meant to instigate the reader into thinking and formulate answers. The context of the speaker asking questions and being surprised at of the Tyger’s characteristics is an indication of self-realization and acknowledgment of the forces responsible for the soul. Having come from the “Songs of Experience,” the poem symbolizes an adult world of suffering, corruption, and immorality.
In comparison, the two poems talk about antithetical animals, the first one signifying harmony, peace, and goodness in a united world while the second animal is representing evil in the society. William Blake uses powerful imagery to bring out the similarity of the child and tiger. Words like “Little Lamb” and “tender voice” bring out the notion of purity and innocence while the “fearful symmetry” of the tiger and “burning bright” ascertains its elegance and fierceness. Both poems indicate how powers of evil and destruction can replace the presence of unity, goodness, and innocence. In both The Lamb and The Tyger, the speaker asks questions about the source of the animals. The former have questions showing innocence while the later has minimum inquiries given that the speaker’s voice is more experienced. Both instances show that as a child, a person is innocent and tries to learn new things they have never encountered before, however, new experience sets in when they grow up.
On the other hand, both poems use literary styles like repetition and alliteration. They also follow a simple rhyme scheme that brings out the honesty and simplicity of the lamb as well as immortality and demise of the tiger. The rhyme scheme in the lamb portrays a natural tone and the voices of small girls and boys. Repetition brings out the tenderness and innocence of the lamb. The rhyme scheme in “the tiger” is conveyed the same way; however, it induces attention to the ferocity of the tiger. Also, the poems have a good rhythm and tone where one is soft and child-like, and the other is somehow fearful. The powerful imagery used in “The Tyger” create a daunting tone whereas an aura of innocence has been created by a tender, soft and adorable tone in ‘The Lamb.”
The two poems are polar contradictory of one another. One represents the faith of God in nature while the other shows fear of God. As a small child, a person is more like a lamb, pure and innocent but in the process of maturity, they adopt societal propensities. Though there is an irony in the two poems, they complement each other having a similar creator and suggested good and evil. Both represent the end of a spectrum with humanity placed at the center.
Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Vol. 2. Princeton University Press, 1998.