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_
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