Songs of Innocence and Experience

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In William Blake's Songs of Innocence and

Experience, the gentle lamb and the dire tiger

define childhood by setting a contrast between

the innocence of youth and the experience of

age. The Lamb is written with childish repetitions

and a selection of words which could satisfy any

audience under the age of five. Blake applies the

lamb in representation of youthful

immaculateness. The Tyger is hard-featured in

comparison to The Lamb, in respect to word

choice and representation. The Tyger is a poem

in which the author makes many inquiries, almost

chantlike in their reiterations. The question at

hand: could the same creator have made both the

tiger and the lamb? For William Blake, the

answer is a frightening one. The Romantic

Period's affinity towards childhood is epitomized

in the poetry of Blake's Songs of Innocence and


"Little Lamb who made thee/ Dost thou know

who made thee (Blake 1-2)." The Lamb's

introductory lines set the style for what follows:

an innocent poem about a amiable lamb and it's

creator. It is divided into two stanzas, the first

containing questions of whom it was who created

such a docile creature with "clothing of delight

(Blake 6)." There are images of the lamb

frolicking in divine meadows and babbling

brooks. The stanza closes with the same inquiry

which it began with. The second stanza begins

with the author claiming to know the lamb's

creator, and he proclaims that he will tell him.

Blake then states that the lamb's creator is none

different then the lamb itself. Jesus Christ is often

described as a lamb, and Blake uses lines such as

"he is meek and he is mild (Blake 15)" to

accomplish this. Blake then makes it clear that

the poem's point of view is from that of a child,

when he says "I a child and thou a lamb (Blake

17)." The poem is one of a child's curiosity,

untainted conception of creation, and love of all

things celestial.

The Lamb's nearly polar opposite is The Tyger.

It's the difference between a feel-good minister

waxing warm and fuzzy for Jesus, and a fiery

evangelist preaching a hellfire sermon. Instead of

the innocent lamb we now have the frightful

tiger- the emblem of nature red in tooth and

claw- that embodies experience. William Blake's

words have turned from heavenly to hellish in the

transition from lamb to tiger. "Burnt the fire of

thine eye (Blake 6)," and "What the hand dare

seize the fire (Blake 7)?" are examples of how

somber and serrated his language is in this poem.

No longer is the author asking about origins, but

is now asking if he who made the innocuous

lamb was capable of making such a dreadful

beast. Experience asks questions unlike those of

innocence. Innocence is "why and how?" while

experience is "why and how do things go wrong,

and why me?" Innocence is ignorance, and

ignorance is, as they say, bliss. Innocence has not

yet experienced fiery tigers in its existence, but

when it does, it wants to know how lambs and

tigers are supposed to co-exist. The poem begins

with "Could frame thy fearful symmetry (Blake

4)?" and ends with "Dare frame thy fearful

symmetry (Blake 11)?" This is important because

when the author initially poses the question, he

wants to know who has the ability to make such

a creature. After more interrogation, the question

evolves to "who could create such a villain of its

potential wrath, and why?"

William Blake's implied answer is "God." In the

poems, innocence is exhilaration and grace,

contrasting with experience which is ill-favored

and formidable. According to Blake, God created

all creatures, some in his image and others in his

antithesis. The Lamb is written in the frame of

mind of a Romantic, and The Tyger sets a

divergent Hadean image to make the former

more holy. The Lamb, from...
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