Comparison of the Lamb and the Tyger by William Blake
Of all the writers from the Romantic period, William Blake is regarded as the most outstanding the precursors of the Romantic Revival in the world of English Literature. His works portray readers with a close connection of English poetry and visual arts. Having been affected by religion, his works always involve with the concept from bible creatures, even the new and old testament. His works are indeed tremendous and worth a further investigation. This essay will put the primary focus on two of his greatest works, namely The Lamb and The Tyger, for a further in-depth discussion.
To begin with, the structure in both pieces is rather similar, with almost the same sets of rhyming. The Lamb is composed with two stanzas of which the first couplet is the question with four couplets follows, serving as the reply of the question. In addition, all of the couplets in The Lamb are rhymed generally following as the AABB style. As these lines follow,
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child (The Lamb, 13-6)
Yet, the overall structure of The Tyger would be different, since the whole poem is composed by six quatrains. However, those quatrains are also rhymed nearly as the AABB style. As these adopted line shows,
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? (The Tyger, 1-4, 21-4)
Such a close-knit rhyming creates a more child-like saying and makes the whole poem easier to read on. The nursery rhyming will also better lead readers through the lines.
Gradually awakened from the fact that the reality was rather complicated, Blake then started to examine the value of life, even thinking of the creator of life. With the personal belief in the ambition of god, Blake wrote various prophetic books of the interaction with god through the angles and to show his belief on human is born with sympathy. One adopted quote best describes the message he wants to covey, that is, “Every child may joy to hear” (Introduction to the Songs of Innocence, 20). As Blake beliefs in religious, god for an instance, the idea that the element of religion includes within poems may not be surprising. The first stanza in The Lamb starts with a rhetorical question asking “the lamb” if he knows who makes such an existence of life, as the lines goes,
Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee? (The Lamb,1-2)
Even the first and the last quatrain in The Tyger do also make a great use of repetition, even the use of synecdoche does catch the attention from readers. Take the first two lines in the first stanza as the example, which are, “Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night” (The Tyger, 1-2). The alliteration is also rather crucial for grabbing attention in these two lines.
Moving onto talking about the language use within these two poems that keep using as examples, the contextual meanings of these two pieces are closely correlated. In his works, Blake does make a good use of the symbolized images of two different animals — that is — “Lamb” and “Tiger”, showing readers with a total opposite state of soul. The Lamb, as mentioned, is a poem involves with more childishness, whereas evil spirit may be involved in the case of another poem — The Tyger. It is more likely to declare an experience from the adult, showing child that the world is not as artless as they think, it consists of many specious and those are created by god to affect human’s life and makes the life more balanced. As these lines go,
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! (The Tyger, 19-20)
These adopted lines best describe a devil spirit may also influence one’s character which existence is still being thought of by Blake, especially the word “anvil” (The Tyger, 19). Such a dark choice of word will make us to interpret that the speaker of The Tyger must have experienced more than the child-like speaking as the words in The Lamb, and even, as mentioned, thinking of the existence of evil of which Blake reminds us to think. Towards the last stanza in The Tyger, this particular stanza is again worth discussing on its reply of the creator. Visualizing the whole picture with angels “threw down their spears” (The Tyger, 17) with the use of imagery. The lines are as follows,
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? (The Tyger, 17-20)
Similarly, we could shift our focus on these adopted in The Lamb if we were to focus only on the life of human being, for the idea of innocence, even childishness. Those lines are as follows:
He is called by thy name (The Lamb, 13)
He became a little child (The Lamb, 16)
The first adopted sentence “He is called by thy name” (The Lamb, 13) is symbolizing as the “birth”, since children will just be called by his/her first name. In the latter case, “He became a little child” (The Lamb, 16) seems describing as “death”, with the idea of rejuvenation. Even, the child reply to the lamb is worth referencing — that is — it is “he” that creates each of the life beings, which hopefully referring back to the God.
Not surprisingly, highly influenced by the idea of the creation of God, the element of some religious figures can be easily found in Blake’s works. The assonance in The Tyger is also crucial, which may also convey us with the idea of the bleating, such as the line “Tyger Tyger, burning bright …” (The Tyger, 1, 21). The bleating hereby would have served as reflecting on the pastoral life of the lamb, with including with an idea that god creates everything, as the line in The Lamb goes “For he calls himself a Lamb” (The Lamb, 14). Apart from the examples in The Lamb, such religious ideas can also be figured out through a few lines in The Tyger. As readers, we may have come across that it is the creator (God) who creates and gives the essential supplies if we can put out key focus on some of the words choices, such as “feed” and “gave”. The lines that best show this explanation go as follows,
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice! (The Tyger, 3-8)
In conclusion, the idea of religion is not rarely seen in both works mentioned throughout the essay, which are, The Lamb and The Tyger. William Blake states unequivocally that God is the Creator of all lives in The Lamb, whilst questioning such a statement as well as the existence of devil in the latter poem, The Tyger. These two poems portray with two different standpoints of soul—as the book title shows—Innocence and Experience, as in Lamb and Tyger, respectively. Both of the poems are indeed correlated in terms of the contextual meanings, making the whole section in The Songs of Innocence and of Experience salient and unique, even worth carrying on discussing. Using with various literary devices, such as assonance and alliteration, making The Lamb musical and catchy, with simple rhyming. The author has also used Metaphor in The Tyger for readers to come across the inter-contextualized meanings, associating with The Lamb. However, The Tyger would be involving an existence with devil spirit, which makes it differs from the childishness when the readers are reading through The Lamb.
- Greenblatt, Stephen, Alfred, David, and Carol T. Christ, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th Ed. New York: W.W Norton & Co., 2013. Print. 1453-8.
- Lorcher, T. An Analysis of The Tyger by William Blake: Symbolism, Alliteration, and Poetic Devices. Retrieved from: https://www.brighthubeducation.com/high-school-english-lessons/61723-the-tyger-analysis-and-meaning/
- Weissenberger, C. (2014). Comparison of William Blake’s The Lamb and The Tyger. Access from: https://www.academia.edu/10870673/Comparison_of_William_Blake_s_The_Lamb_and_The_Tyger_
Duality in William Blake’s the Tyger
English author William Blake was notorious for his anti-authoritative poetry that challenged organized religion during the time of the Industrial Revolution. Regarded as one of his most acclaimed works, his poem The Tyger molds together a series of rhetorical questions that seek to understand the meaning behind the creation of the ferocious tiger by a God with ostensibly cryptic intentions. By using deliberate symbolism, the poem The Tyger written by William Blake criticizes the motivations of a God that allows for good and evil to coexist and supports the belief that creations are a direct reflection of their creators.
The narrator’s fascination of a fearsome tiger, the main symbol of the poem, represents not only God’s capacity of creating evil, but also alludes to the idea that God himself possesses an evil side to him. Right from the first stanza, and repeated once more in the final stanza of the poem, the unknown narrator says “What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” (3-4), questioning the inception of such a marvelous creature and deciding that it could not have come about by chance. The creator of such an animal, undoubtedly God, is described as “immortal” (3) to emphasize the scope of his power. Yet what is noteworthy of this line is the acknowledgement of the tiger’s “fearful symmetry” (4), a point that highlights the duality in the capturing beauty of the tiger as well as its bloodthirsty nature. Combining these two features into one being itself seems like a cruel prank played by God because a dangerous animal is given power in its alluring appearance, which is an ill-intentioned concoction. Its existence hints at the belief that an evil design requires an evil designer and calls into questions God’s reasoning for even allowing the existence of evil. This is further considered when the tiger is put in stark contrast to the lamb mentioned, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” (20). The lamb is widely referred to as a symbol of innocence and gentleness, which increases the impact of the tiger as a symbol of ferocity. This contrast between both of God’s creations is an example of the symmetry mentioned in the first stanza and is an attempt to explain the necessity of equilibrium in the universe, letting the reader contemplate that without the existence of one extreme, the dangerous tiger, the other extreme, the gentle lamb, cannot exist. Likewise, the poem suggests that this was perhaps God’s intention all along in that for goodness to thrive, evil must first stand in its way. This bold notion may seem beyond human comprehension because the natural inclination for humans is to desire unending goodness, hence the hopefulness of reaching a paradisiacal heaven for most religious individuals. Yet, the poem begs its reader to consider that God created the universe in such a way that allows for the existence of opposing forces in order to fully express his power and godship, that which does not require the understanding of God’s subjects.
Another impactful symbol utilized in Blake’s poem is the blacksmith that he uses to personify the tiger’s creator and assign additional characteristics to the purity of the creator’s intentions. We see the introduction of the blacksmith symbol in the fourth stanza when the narrator wonders if the creator used a hammer, chain, furnace, and anvil to forge the deadly tiger, all tools of typical use to a blacksmith (13-15). The theory that all these tools were needed to create the tiger emphasize the deliberate intention behind God’s doings and makes the readers ponder over the meaning behind God’s seemingly painstakingly difficult task. In essence, if God was willing to go through the trouble of creating such a ferocious animal, then God must have regarded the tiger’s existence as necessary to create balance in a world of innocence that had not yet been tainted by the tiger’s presence.
In similar fashion to the symbol of the blacksmith, the symbol of fire used throughout reminds the audience of the danger behind God’s task of creating the tiger, and thus God’s ability to be dangerous. The nature of a blacksmith’s job is to use fire and heat to wield metal into different shapes, which requires not only great skill, but also a degree of courage to work in a possibly hazardous job. The poem demonstrates this at the end of the second stanza in the line “What the hand, dare seize the fire?” (8). In this line, the narrator is in awe that God would be so daring so as to metaphorically put his hand in a fire for the payoff of his evil creation, shedding light to God’s more cunning side. The narrator again references fire by describing the tiger as “burning bright/ In the forests of the night” (1-2) and as having fire burning in its eyes (6). This imagery of fire contributes to the allure of the tiger’s appearance, similar to how God is portrayed as welcoming and all-loving, but the narrator begs the readers to remember that fire itself is a perilous object, warning that God himself is not to be played around with lest anyone suffer the burn of his consequences. Should humans then fear God for his powerful yet hateful creations, or should they commemorate God for all the good that he has allowed to flourish and might continue to bestow on humanity? The poem is setup as a series of rhetorical questions, implying that this debate is up to the reader’s interpretation, but the poem achieves its goal of convincing the reader to scrutinize God’s work and challenge its purpose, with the implication that the concurrence between good and evil that exists in the world is simply a physical manifestation of God’s power.
William Blake’s The Tyger uses symbolism to criticize the intentions of a daring and experienced God in his noble and in his bad creations. Being compared to a daring blacksmith who plays with fire, God demonstrates just how far his authority can reach. The imagery behind a beautiful tiger stands in stark contrast to its violent nature, which in turn opposes the gentle nature of the symbolic goodness of a lamb. To experience a world where both of these clashing forces are allowed, and even encouraged, to exist uncovers the power behind God’s unexplainable actions in creating harmony in the world. Much like the ferocious tiger cannot prevail unless it can prey on the innocent lamb, God’s divinity cannot be fully realized if his benevolent creatures are not balanced by his more pernicious creations.
My Impression from the Tyger Poem
The Tyger: Annotation 1
When first reading the poem The Tyger by William Blake, it is hard to tell if the poem is referring to an actual tiger. The first stanza opens up with a repetition of “Tyger! Tyger!” which somewhat sounds like a shout, and sets the mood for the rest of the poem. The shouting could maybe even be seen as a warning. The rest of the stanza uses words like “immortal” and “fearful” which goes to make readers question if the author is referring to a tiger or more of a higher being. The word fearful also makes the Tyger seem powerful and adds to the overall mystery.
In the second stanza, it sounds like there is a question of where the Tyger came from. The words “distant deeps or skies” makes it sound like the Tyger is from a far away or possibly other worldly place. The next two lines seem to bring in another character, but still remains mysterious. The speaker refers to this second character as “he,” which may be assumed as the creator of the Tyger. A hand is also brought up, which I assume belongs to said “he.” If the Tyger was created by someone’s hand, it sounds like this creator is in some way divine. “He” seems to have some sort of Godly power to create something like the Tyger.
The next stanza seems to go back to the creator of the Tyger. It questions what kind of strength or creativity it would take to create the Tyger by asking what shoulder and art it takes. Again, going back to the possibility of the Tyger’s creator being Godly or unearthly. Mystery is still one of the main themes of the poem because so much about the Tyger is still unknown. The end of the stanza takes a slightly different turn. When it refers to a heart starting to beat, the word dread appears twice. I think this sounds like when the Tyger comes to life, all fear it. The beginning of the poem made the Tyger sound very powerful and definitely a force to be reckoned with. Along with this appearance of fear comes the mystery of what the Tyger is and where the Tyger came from.
The fourth stanza is still going on about the creation of the Tyger. I think that when the hammer and chain are mentioned, there is speculation about maybe those were tools used to create the Tyger. It then goes on to talk about a furnace which sounds like a reference to someone who creates things with a furnace like a blacksmith or a metallurgist. The next line speaks of an anvil, which goes again to maybe say that the Tyger was created with tools. Maybe this is alluding to the fact that the Tyger was created like a machine. This could refer to the fact that the Tyger is as strong as a machine, if not stronger. The end of this stanza brings back the word dread, which was repeated in the last stanza. The word dread and the last line bring a scarier and more mysterious vibe back.
The fifth stanza sounds slightly religious. There is mention of heaven, going back to the original thought of divinity in the poem. Also the word “he” is brought back, talking about the Tyger’s creator. Especially in this stanza, the “he” sounds like God. The last line alludes the biblical symbol for Jesus Christ, the lamb. I think that the author is making a comparison here by wondering how someone who created such a gentle creature, the lamb, could also create something so mysteriously fear-inducing. Both creatures show different power, but also divinity.
The final stanza is a repetition of the first stanza. The only difference between the two stanzas is that the word “could” from the first is changed to “dare” in the last. This change in words is definitely deliberately done and carries a message. I think that it starts out with more of a wondering of who has the capability to create such a creature but the final stanza goes back and says who would want to create the Tyger, something so mysterious. The speaker makes it sound like creating the Tyger would be taking a risk, because not even the creator knows what the Tyger could be capable of with the power it beholds.
Similar and Different in Two Poems by William Blake
William Blake wrote a dual collection of poems known as the Songs of Innocence and Experience. “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” are perhaps two of his most famous poems. The poems contrast each other, and the reader gets the sense of how Blake sees the world. Jim Baird calls the literary works as “the two contrary states of the human soul (Baird).” The Songs of Innocence captures the viewpoints of a naïve child, while the Songs of Experience captures the cynical view on the world that Blake expresses. Blake offers greater insight and understanding of the human world with the writings of “The Lamb” and “The Tyger.”
“The Lamb,” published in 1789, is one of the poems included in the set of the Songs of Innocence. The poem’s construction is simple. The lines are short and the rhythmic sequence is easy to figure out. Blake uses this structure to lend to the idea of a childish speaker. The poem is referred to as a pastoral poem, which refers to the glorified lives of shepherds. It is fitting that Blake should use a creature like the Lamb because the Lamb is a classic symbol of the pastoral life. The opening two lines of the poem voices the mystery of creation. The question, “who made thee?” is a naïve one, yet at the same it is a simple one. It taps into the deep and timeless question of human creation: who created living beings? As the first stanza moves on, in line 3, it can be reasonably inferred that Blake is alluding to the creation story in the Bible. Blake not only uses God as the creator, but he also represents God as the shepherd in this pastoral poem. God is a great, big shepherd who gives the Lamb all his desires: the desire to feed and to live. Blake uses adjectives, such as wooly bright and tender voice, to represent the Lamb’s gentleness, joy, and affection. These adjectives lends to the description of the Lamb’s innocence in the world. The first stanza closes with the same questions that Blake opened up the poem with to grasp the readers’ attention into transitioning into the second stanza, where he answers the questions.
The second stanza of “The Lamb” shifts toward answering the question the speaker states in the first. The repetitive use of “I” in lines 11 and 12 emphasizes how the speaker is going to reveal who the Lamb’s creator is. The second stanza again contains biblical allusions, and as the poem progresses it is revealed that Jesus is the Lamb. The adjectives used in line 15 and 16 again refer the Bible, as Jesus is referred to as being meek and mild, and they also again show the innocence of the Lamb. A child is meek and mild like the Lamb, so it emphasizes what Blake is trying to capture in the Songs of Innocence. Towards the end of the poem, Blake unmasks the speaker as a child. The significance of using a child as the speaker is that Blake refers to all men as the children of God. Therefore, all men are the lambs of god. Ian McGreal writes that through the poem, it becomes clear “all persons are lambs; relative to his knowledge, will, and power, all persons are innocent (McGreal).” Blake concludes the poem by blessing the children of God. “The Lamb” idealizes the views of a naïve child, and it opens the way for Blake to write a poem, which contrasts the way he feels in “The Lamb.”
Blake’s “The Tyger” is a much dark and sinister poem. As opposed to “The Lamb,” the quatrains and rhythmic sequence gives a sense of urgency and power within the poem. Thomas Curley writes, “the first three quatrains describe the beast (the tyger) in terms of a frightening beauty (Curley).” The first stanza shows how the tyger is a much more powerful and mysterious creature than the Lamb. “In the forest of the night,” shows the elusiveness of the tyger. The third and fourth line lends to the idea of the sublime nature of the tyger. The Tyger is this awe-inspiring creature. This creature represents the adult view on God and how they take a much more cynical view towards God. Adults see God as a shadowy figure, and humans are fearful of him because he has infinite power. The question “What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” becomes the focus of the poem and is consistently referred to throughout the poem (“The Tyger”). Stanza two of “The Tyger” asks the simple question of where the tyger was created. This parallels the same question asked in “The Lamb.” However, this time the question is referring to a much darker, sinister creature. The use of “deeps” and “skies” refers to hell and heaven. With the addition of “Burnt the fire of thine eyes,” it adds the power and fearful nature of the Tyger. Again in stanza 3, the speaker continues the question of who created the sublime, powerful creature of the Tyger.
The second half of the poem contrasts the “The Lamb” more closely. The reader can see how stanza four and five ask the similar questions asked in “The Lamb.” The speaker continuously asks how the tyger was created. The speaker states the question, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” to float a question: if Blake says the Lamb of God is Jesus, whom is Blake comparing the Tyger to. The answer to this question is contained earlier on in the stanza. “When the stars threw down their spears/
And watered heaven with their tears,” refers to the story of Satan. Satan disobeyed God, and therefore was thrown from heaven to hell. The Tyger was born in fire and violence. Blake is comparing the Tyger to Satan. The last stanza of the poem is a repetition of the first stanza, but with a twist. The last line of the poem isn’t asking the ability of the creator, the speaker is now question the nerve of the creator. God created such a gentle, kind creature like the Lamb, and then God created such a frightful, awe-inspiring creature like the Tyger. In the Songs of Experience, Blake is tapping into the view that adults take on God. Blake wonders “how an all-perfect God responsible for innocence and goodness can be the creator of violence and evil (Curley).”
William Blake’s “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” are part of the two sets of poetry in the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience. Blake uses these two sets of poems to show the two views on God. The Songs of Innocence captures the naïve view on God, and how he is so benevolent. This view is much like how a child would see God. However, growing up, people see God in a much darker view. This is what the Songs of Experience touches upon. This collection of poetry captures the cynical view on God. “The Lamb” depicts God as a benevolent, mild character like the Lamb. However, in “The Tyger,” God is depicted as a fearful, awe-inspiring character like the Tyger. God brings joy to the world with the Lamb, and yet he brings all this hatred and fear to the world with the Tyger.
Comparison of the Lamb and the Tyger Poems
The Lamb and The Tyger
Literature is a written work of superior, artistic merit. A literary work can be writings that may or may not be published, on any particular subject and can also be broken down into several genres such as: short stories, poems, and dramas. The genres are composed of words and various elements of literary composition. Due to the variety if literary elements that authors can use in their work, it is possible to find a comparison and contrast between multiple literary pieces. Similarities and differences can be seen in William Blake’s The Lamb and The Tyger through imagery, allusion, and the theme of creation.
Similarities and differences on the element of imagery can be seen within both of Blake’s poems. Imagery is any sensory detail in a work that evokes a feeling. Both poems use images within nature to call to mind to the idea that humankind can be split into completely different worlds. In The Lamb, the images created implies that the concrete object lives in a world that is very nurturing and tranquil, as seen in the following quote “Gave thee life & bid thee feed / By the stream & o’er the mead” (3-4). On the other hand, in The Tyger, the images used create an environment that is a dark, haunting, fiery violent world, as seen in the lines “Tyger Tyger, burning bright / In the forests of the night” (1-2). Even though both poems convey different types of imagery, they both show how the world can possess a bright, innocent side or a dark evil one. Another set of imagery is seen within both literary works is the animal use and reference. When one thinks of a lamb, several connotations can be depicted from this image, such as how its appearance, it’s nice, gentle actions, and the color white which can further imply innocence. However when one think of a tiger, one may conclude that it is of a large, strong nature, lives in the jungle, maintains the theory of survival of the fittest, and is often feared. The image of the lamb evokes the feeling of serenity and purity, while the tiger evokes power and fierceness. This can further imply to the mind that the Lamb represents innocence in the world and the Tyger illustrates experience. The image of the light and Lamb suggests that it is a sacrifice for humanity to overcome evil, while the Tyger, fire, and darkness suggests potential danger. As stated by a literary critic in the article, The Tyger: Genesis & Evolution in the Poetry of William Blake, “The problem of ‘The Tyger’ is, quite simply, how to reconcile the Forgiveness of Sins (the Lamb) with the Punishment of Sins (the Tyger)” (Miner). The element of imagery in both works can be depicted as the same and different.
A universal literary element, allusion, is seen within both poems that is homologous and analogous to each other. Allusion is the implicit or indirect reference in the literary text to something outside of a text. Both poems allude to the Bible, as many Biblical references, symbols, and images are seen in both texts. In The Lamb, the Lamb symbolizes the Christianity religion and Jesus. The following quote “Gave thee life, and bid thee feed / By the stream and o’re the mead” (3-4), illustrates that God created not only the Lamb, but everything else that God loves. In reference to the text, the Lamb of God is Jesus himself. This can further suggest that God leads all of the Lambs, who are helpless in nature, as seen in the quote, “Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee / Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee” (11-12). It is through the love and grace of God that makes everything live and possess the quality of divinity in the world. The Tyger, has an allusion to the Bible as well, and has the symbolism of Satan. The quote “In what distant deeps or skies / Burnt the fire of thy eyes (5-6 ), signifies Satan involvement in creating the Tyger and that the creator possibly lives in the skies of heaven or the deep pits of hell. The Tyger poem also alludes to two great classical myths, Prometheus and Icarus. As stated by a literary critic of the poem done by North Carolina State University:
The Creator that the speaker imagines resembles Icarus and Prometheus, both of whom were bold, Icarus for his flight and Prometheus for his theft of fire from the ancient gods. The allusion to Prometheus consequently leads into the darkest and most frightening intuition Blake’s speaker has regarding the tiger’s Creator–the possibility that this Creator could be a powerful and violent demiurge. (Broadwell and Morillo)
This symbolizes that the creator of the Tyger will go above and beyond in creating the beast with daring aspiration. Both poems also allude to the Testaments of the Bible, The Lamb being the New Testament as God is kindhearted, while The Tyger is the Old Testament, since God seems to be in vain. Similarities and differences are seen with the element of allusion in both poems.
Both poems are alike and unalike in regards to the theme of creation. Both poems want answers as to who the creator is. In The Tyger, the narrator does not understand or comprehend as to why a loving God would create something of fear and evil, as seen in the quote, “What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry” (3-4). The speaker is in a state of awe when they come to the realization that God is has the artistic ability and strength to make a powerful creature. This power in turn causes the speaker to respect and fear of God. As seen in an article done by the University of Chapel Hill, “This example presented demonstrates Blake’s beliefs of creation, and distrust in religion. The serene tiger presented becomes a unique symbol representing Blake’s investigation of evil in this “pure” world” (Analysis and Discussion). The speaker ponders on the thought of God’s motives and methods. In The Lamb, the speaker makes an attempt into finding out who made the precious Lamb, seen the following line “Little Lamb, who made thee” (1). Soon, the speaker question is answered and realizes that the same being who created them is also the creator of the Lamb. This allowed the speaker to have a state of benevolence to God and established a relationship with him. As seen in a poem criticism in reference to the God and Lamb relationship:
Every event has sacramental implications because all human relationships are sacramental re-enactments of man’s relation to God and God’s to man. Every shepherd is a lamb and every lamb a shepherd. These are not merely symbols, they are the thing itself; they partake of the divinity they represent. (Smith)
Even though both poems ask the same question, they approach the question differently, and it is only in The Lamb the narrator gets an answer, as the speaker is left hanging in The Tyger. Both literary works work together in order to figuring out if the same creator who made the Lamb is also the one who made the Tyger as well. Blake uses animals to address the creator’s role in nature, as one is fearsome while the other is innocent. Comparing and contrasting the theme of creation is seen in the both works.
Imagery, allusion, and theme are the literary elements seen in both poems that can be compared and contrasted. Despite several differences among the poems, they both have a same amount of similarities also, which helps in understanding its purpose. Even though both poems were written within several years of each other, Blake was able to execute a proposition by allowing both poems to reference one another. The poems prove that the world is of a balance between good and evil.
The Mood Swing Through Creative Language: Comparing Two Poems
Men at Forty and The Tyger are two intense poems written using creative language that seems to alter each piece’s mood drastically. These two poems discussing strong, bold things are transformed into soft spoken stanzas that float off the reader’s tongue and resonate like peaceful songs. Donald Justice uses gentle words throughout Men at Forty to display a sense of smoothness and innocence in his poem while William Blake plays with rhymed couplets to portray this same reading experience.
Justice’s poem, Men at Forty, written in 1967, tells the story of a young boy and how he grows up to be a man like his father. There are scenes in which the subject – an older man – looks back at himself as a young boy while he “practices tying / His father’s tie” providing the reader with a strong visual image of how the boy will turn into the man that his father is. Although this aging seems graceful at first, other parts of the poem display the hardships that come with leaving childhood and becoming an older man. Examples of this are when the author describes the man “At rest on a stair landing, / [He feels] it moving.” With age the body changes and it may become less reliable which is why the man needs breaks like this one. This is where the darker, more harsh parts of the poem come in.
Blake’s 1794 poem, The Tyger, is different from Men at Forty in that it immediately gives off a sense of darkness. While Justice’s poem danced around and swayed between positive and negative aspects of growing old, Blake’s poem delves straight into this intense poem full of questions that almost demand the reader for answers. His piece describes a strong, harsh animal and questions its creator. Blake asks what kind of creature would dare make such an intense, deadly being as a tiger.
One would expect Men at Forty to be strong or harsh sounding to match the characters of the poem however this is not how the poem turned out. There is a sense of smoothness to be found at least once in each stanza. In the first stanza the word “softly” stands out. With the second stanza one might find themselves focusing on the words “swell” and “gentle.” In the third stanza gentle terms like “warm” and “lather” are to be found. Finally, the word “twilight” is embedded in the last stanza. Justice’s choice of language in this poem drastically changes what a reader would expect to find from reading the poem’s title. The contrast between initial predictions and the end result of the poem are therefore unexpected, very similar to Blake’s work in his poem.
The Tyger was unpredictable and was created in a way that the language differed from the initial thoughts a reader might have about it, similar to Men at Forty. However, rather than smooth and gentle language being the cause of this unpredictability, the contradictory qualities of this poem are results of rhyme. The musicality put in place by Blake throughout this poem gives it an upbeat and innocent sound that very clearly goes against the sense of harshness that the title gives off. He implements a rhymed couplets rhyme scheme in each stanza throughout the poem to give this seemingly serious poem its lighter, more musical tone and therefore the darkness of the words in this poem are metaphorically brightened by the sounds it creates.
Although Justice’s and Blake’s tactics to lighten up their initially serious or harsh seeming poems are different, the two poets manage to create a well thought out balance between the dark undertones that are present in each and the upbeat qualities that come with gentle phrases and musicality.