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Despite the fact that human beings have a passion for understanding God’s mind, their minds cannot fathom the puzzling creation of a lamb and a tiger. “The Lamb” and “The Tiger” are two poems written by one author known as William Blake. “The Tiger” was originally published in the Songs of Experience collection in 1794. “The Lamb,” on the hand, was published earlier in the Songs of Innocence collection in 1789. However, modern anthologies printed the two poems together in the Songs of Innocence collection (Glancy 113).
The two poems depict contrasting points of view, which raise several unresolved questions. Blake expresses two different ways in which people experience the world: the sensitive side and the insensitive side. The lamb is used to represent a humble and an innocent creature, while the tiger represents a harsh, tainted, and a powerful creature.
Thus, the author uses the two animals to express the nature of humanity by describing how people change from innocent children that God created to tainted and resentful people. This paper analyzes the similarities and differences between the two poems: “The Lamb” and “The Tiger.”
Similarities and Differences between “The Lamb” and “The Tiger”
Both poems represent a body of useful knowledge that addresses the readers directly despite lack of voice in the poems. The terms used by the author serve as an avenue for communication between the poet and the readers, and this helps the readers to create a comprehensive mental picture of the poet following the questions proposed by the writer.
To start with, lines 3 and 4 of “The Lamb” compare with lines1 and 2 of “The Tiger.” This is derived from the fact that when lines 1 and 2 of “The Lamb” are read after lines 3 and 4 of “The Tiger,” they form one key question: Who created the lamb and the tiger? This question helps the readers to understand that these two poems are meant for comparison.
The author uses the lamb and the tiger to represent the states of human souls. The lamb represents a soul that is full of mildness, innocence, and beauty, while the tiger represents a soul that is full of power. Even though the two states of human souls are different, they have a relationship with each other since every person depicts innocence when he/she is young, and experience when he/she grows up. Hence, the poet’s main idea is to find a balance between the two states of human souls: experience and innocence.
The two poems bring into play a number of questions that are aimed at attracting the attention of the readers. Though these questions are phrased differently, they express the same meaning: in “The Lamb” the author questions, “Little lamb, who made thee?” while in “The Tiger” the author questions, “Did He who made the lamb make thee?” In addition to this, the author makes sure that he presents his point of view by using the most suitable adjectives to describe the tiger as well as the lamb.
In “The Tiger,” this is found in lines 3, 4, and 12(Blake 71); while in “The Lamb,” this is found in lines 4, 5, and 6(Blake 13). The adjectives that describe the tiger include immortal, dread, bright, and fearful, while the terms delight and tender describe the lamb. These adjectives help the readers to create a mental picture of creativity from the tiger, and peace and tranquility from the lamb.
Both poems bring into play alliteration, meaning that words in a particular line start with a common consonant. In “The Tiger,” the poem applies alliteration /f/ for the words frame and fearful in line 4, alliteration /d/ for the words distance and deeps in line 5, and alliteration /h/ for the words he and his in line 19 (Blake 71). In “The Lamb,” the poem applies alliteration /h/ for the words he and himself in line 14 and alliteration /m/ for the words meek and mild in line 15 (Blake 13).
Both poems also utilize consonance, meaning that words in a given line end with a common consonant. In “The Tiger” consonant /t/ is applied in line 5 for the words what and distant, consonant /d/ is applied in line 12 for the words dread and hand, and consonant /n/ is applied in line 17 for the words when and down (Blake 71). In “The Lamb,” consonant /t/ is applied in line 6 for the words softest and bright, and consonant /y/ is applied in line 13 for the words by and thy (Blake 13).
“The Tiger” brings into play imagery that helps to create mental pictures to the minds of the readers. In lines 13 and 14, the poem applies words that describe industrial revolution, which include furnaces, hammers, as well as chains. These lines reveal that as human beings grow up, they come across a revolution that violates their innocence. This experience is made of tools that are associated with super hot metal that emanates from fire.
The word wings, which is found in line 7 of “The Tiger,” is also an imagery in the poem since it represents God’s daring power in the art of creating the tiger. “The Lamb,” on the other hand, utilizes a symbol in line 20, which represents Jesus Christ. The lamb, in this case, represents purity, as the early Christians offered a lamb for sanctification.
According to Christians, Jesus is currently considered as the last sacrificial lamb. This makes the author to question whether God who created the lamb created the tiger as well. This implies that God is both kind and alarming, as it is supported by the fact that God could not do away with the fire that created the tiger despite being represented by the lamb.
Both poems have rhythms, meaning that the sounds of the last words used in two consecutive lines are the same, and this makes the readers to take pleasure in sound repetition. The rhythms found in “The Tiger” include the words bright and night in lines 1 and 2, skies and eyes in lines 5 and 6, aspire and fire in lines 7 and 8, art and heart in lines 9 and 10, beat and fit in lines 11 and 12, chain and brain in lines 13 and 14.
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This also applies to the subsequent stanzas, as the poem relates the words grasp and clasp in lines 15 and 16, spears and tears in lines 17 and 18, and see and thee in lines 19 and 20 ( Blake 71). “The Lamb,” on the other hand, relates the words feed and mead in lines 3 and 4, delight and bright in lines 5 and 6, voice and rejoice in lines 7 and 8, and mild and child in line 15 and 16 to express rhythm of the poem (Blake 71).
The poems bring into play repetition in order to change the opinion of the readers. This feature is normally applied in emotional poems to guide the readers on areas that need to be noted. In “The Tiger,” the poem completely repeats the first stanza to make the last stanza of the poem (Blake 71).
This repetition aims at changing the readers’ attitudes towards the tiger by suggesting another point of view. The first two lines of this stanza urge the readers to change their mind because the tiger is burning bright, and therefore it must be a good creature. Repetition of line 1, 11, and 19 is also evident in “The Lamb” (Blake 13). This repetition aims at encouraging the readers to draw their own conclusion: God created the lamb.
The tone of the two poems is different. “The Lamb” describes the qualities of the lamb by using a soft tone that is positive, and therefore conveys to the readers that the lamb’s formation makes the vales rejoice.
The author describes this in line 8 of “The Lamb.” “The Tiger,” on the other hand, describes the qualities of the tiger by using a harsh tone that seems negative and harsh in the second and the third stanza, as the author questions whether the tiger was created in heaven or hell, and how the creator worked on the blazing fire that created the tiger.
Blake is thus concerned with how the creator used his artistry and strength to stand before the tiger and create it, “Did He smile His work to see?” and “What immortal hand or eye dare frame thy fearful symmetry?” The author, however, does not depict any contempt pertaining to the tiger’s formation.
Even though the author asks questions in the first stanza of “The Lamb,” he seems aware that God created the lamb in the second stanza. He compares the qualities of the lamb to God’s qualities, and concludes that the lamb symbolizes God.
This shows that the author favors the lamb from the onset of the poet, but he also acknowledges the tiger as the poet advances. The author is convinced that the lamb is a symbol of God and the tiger represents the works of God. The way the two poems end describes that God ways are mysterious, and this makes the author unable to comprehended God’s creation (Gillham 74-75).
Though “The Tiger” and “The Lamb” express contrast at the beginning of the poems, the two poems have a similarity in the sense that both the lamb and the tiger are part of God’s creation (Blake 71). The lamb is childish and represents the entire wondrous things in life, while the tiger represents the horrors that befall the earth. This leaves the readers with an unanswered query concerning God’s puzzling ways in creation.
The poet achieves this by being in a close contact with the readers through using poetic tools, which include symbol, repetition, alliteration, imagery, consonance, and rhythms to stress on main points and to make the poems more interesting. These poetic tools help the readers to embrace the writer’s point of view by creating a mental picture of whatever idea the writer is presenting.
Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and of Experience. East Lansing, MI: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC., 2007. Print.
Gillham, D. William Blake. London: Cambridge University Press, 1973. Print.
Glancy, Ruth. Thematic Guide to British Poetry. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.