Blake’s Songs Of Innocence And ExperienceIn William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, the gentle lamb and thedire tiger define childhood by setting a contrast between the innocence of youthand the experience of age. The Lamb is written with childish repetitions and aselection of words which could satisfy any audience under the age of five. Blakeapplies the lamb in representation of youthful immaculateness. The Tyger ishard-featured in comparison to The Lamb, in respect to word choice andrepresentation. The Tyger is a poem in which the author makes many inquiries,almost chantlike in their reiterations.
The question at hand: could the samecreator have made both the tiger and the lamb? For William Blake, the answer isa frightening one. The Romantic Period’s affinity towards childhood isepitomized in the poetry of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. “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 poemabout a amiable lamb and it’s creator. It is divided into two stanzas, thefirst containing questions of whom it was who created such a docile creaturewith “clothing of delight (Blake 6). ” There are images of the lambfrolicking in divine meadows and babbling brooks.
The stanza closes with thesame inquiry which it began with. The second stanza begins with the authorclaiming 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 lambitself. 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 thenmakes it clear that the poem’s point of view is from that of a child, when hesays “I a child and thou a lamb (Blake 17). ” The poem is one of achild’s curiosity, untainted conception of creation, and love of all thingscelestial.
The Lamb’s nearly polar opposite is The Tyger. It’s thedifference between a feel-good minister waxing warm and fuzzy for Jesus, and afiery evangelist preaching a hellfire sermon. Instead of the innocent lamb wenow have the frightful tiger- the emblem of nature red in tooth and claw- thatembodies experience. William Blake’s words have turned from heavenly tohellish 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 longeris the author asking about origins, but is now asking if he who made theinnocuous lamb was capable of making such a dreadful beast. Experience asksquestions unlike those of innocence. Innocence is “why and how?” whileexperience is “why and how do things go wrong, and why me?” Innocenceis ignorance, and ignorance is, as they say, bliss. Innocence has not yetexperienced fiery tigers in its existence, but when it does, it wants to knowhow lambs and tigers are supposed to co-exist. The poem begins with “Couldframe thy fearful symmetry (Blake 4)?” and ends with “Dare frame thyfearful symmetry (Blake 11)?” This is important because when the authorinitially poses the question, he wants to know who has the ability to make sucha creature.
After more interrogation, the question evolves to “who couldcreate such a villain of its potential wrath, and why?” William Blake’simplied answer is “God. ” In the poems, innocence is exhilaration andgrace, contrasting with experience which is ill-favored and formidable. According to Blake, God created all creatures, some in his image and others inhis antithesis. The Lamb is written in the frame of mind of a Romantic, and TheTyger sets a divergent Hadean image to make the former more holy.
The Lamb, fromWilliam Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is a befittingrepresentation of the purity of heart in childhood, which was the Romanticperiod. BibliographyBlake, William. Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Tyger and The Lamb. The Longman Anthology of British Literature . Ed. David Damrosch.
New York:Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. 1999. 112, 120.