The Lamb & The Tyger
“The Lamb” and “The Tyger” are two different poems written by William Blake, the first taken from the Songs of Innocence and the second taken from the Songs of Experience. Both poems follow an A-A-B-B rhyme scheme and both focus on the topic of religion. Many sources have recommended the reading of the two poems together and I, myself, found that it was an experiment worth trying.
When I first read “The Lamb” I was sure that it would be a poem with Jesus himself as the main character. This is because of my background in Christianity, as I have been apart of a Baptist church for over 5 years now. After all the alternative name for Jesus Christ is the lamb so my mistake here seems reasonable. However, as I read I discovered that the narrator was simply talking to a Lamb. I could not accept that this connection with Christ was not intentional however and as I read on, the connection between the two characters is unified. The poem mainly focuses on the narrator speaking to a lamb, asking it questions about its very existence, and then answering it in the second half.
This poem starts out with the question of “Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?” This is a question that refers back to the most basic principle in the bible, “God made the heavens and the earth and all the animals who roam the earth.” It is also a question that most missionaries will begin with when they are sharing the gospel, that “god made you and has a plan for you.” This Lamb, like every person on this planet, is shown as something that searches for meaning in his existence, trying to figure out the reason for his existence.
The poem continues with more questions from the narrator, asking the Lamb if he knew who gave him life, lets him feed, gave him clothing and a voice. By asking this the narrator is indirectly asking him, “Do you know who takes care of you?” This question could easily be answered by “the sheep boy” or “the farmer” but this is not the case. For if it was the sheep boy or farmer who waters him, and feeds him, where does the water and grass come from? Or if they are the ones who take care of the sheep, who is the one who takes care of them? For if we trace the lines back far enough we will always come to that same unknown place where there is no longer anything to trace to. So the narrator only asks the Lamb once more if he “know[s] who made [him].”
In the second part of the poem the narrator reveals that he know who made the lamb with an exclamation of joy in “Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!” Such is the joy of the narrator at such an opportunity to share the good news with this Lamb. I have also seen such joy on many of my friends and pastors at church as they welcome a new member to the church; perhaps it is the joy of being able to share salvation with those who do not yet have it that makes them all so enthusiastic.
The connection between Christ and the Lamb becomes evident in the next few lines when the narrator describes him to the lamb as someone who “calls himself a Lamb/ he is meek & he is mild/ He became a little child” this is the story of Christ coming to earth to live amongst sinners in order to save them from eternal damnation. The words “meek” and “mild” here make Christ a very approachable character that is gentle and kind. Through these lines the narrator has connected the lamb with Christ. “I a child and thou a lamb/ we are called by his name” the narrator then proceeds to relate himself to the Lamb, and in turn, Christ. The reason for these relations are because of the ideal that all believers in Christ are brother and sister in the house of god, therefore, the narrator and the lamb would be related in Christ. The poem ends fittingly with a simple “God bless thee” from the narrator to the lamb, a final good wish to the animal.
After reading “The Lamb” and immediately moving on to “The Tyger” the sudden contrast is almost shocking. Directly...
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