The Lamb Poem is the Opposite of The Tyger; Here’s How

The Lamb poem by William Blake cover image

William Blake’s The Tyger is perhaps his most popular poem. But many people are unaware of the counterpart of that poem; The Lamb. Featured in the anthology called Songs of Innocence, The Lamb is the mirror opposite of The Tyger, with Blake talking about the docile, innocent nature of mankind by representing a lamb as the conduit.

Blake portrays both humanity and divinity with the use of a lamb as an example. The poet looks at the sweet and innocent lamb and asks about its creator, its nurturer, the God that has created it. To understand the poem completely, one has to read The Tyger as well because both the poems are complementary to each other. Take a look at this poem and then we’ll move to the analysis.

The Lamb

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee,

Gave thee life, and bid thee feed

By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, woolly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:

He is called by thy name,

For He calls Himself a Lamb.

He is meek, and He is mild,

He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by His name.

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Meaning and Significance of The Lamb

The poem starts with Blake asking some rhetorical questions about the Creator of the lamb. The first distinction between this poem and The Tyger is this, Blake is asking these questions to the lamb. In The Tyger, Blake is asking the questions to himself, showing the dangerous side of the wild animal. 

Here’s how the poem explores the nature of God, the nature of mankind, and its complexities. The poem is divided into two stanzas, each with ten lines. The first stanza is about the qualities of the creation, the lamb while the second one is about the creator. 

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee,

Gave thee life, and bid thee feed

By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, woolly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Blake asks the lamb about its creator by describing the qualities of the lamb. What beautiful God must have created this delightful creature with a beautiful coat of bright, white wool. The bleat so tender and soft, such a voice that would make the entire valley rejoice in happiness. 

Another reason why Blake is asking this to the lamb is to show the very core nature of it; the lamb is innocent, unknown to its sweet nature, happy appearance, and tender voice. So by asking all these questions, the poet is letting the lamb know about all these qualities. 

At the same time, Blake is also making us know what a beautiful God it must be to create such a lovely creature. What a caring God it must be to feed this innocent animal over the grasses, give it clothes, and all the lovely qualities that make it so lovable. So within the single stanza, we get to know about the creator and the creature. But the second stanza reveals more.

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:

He is called by thy name,

For He calls Himself a Lamb.

He is meek, and He is mild,

He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by His name.

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Little lamb, God bless thee!

In the second and final stanza, the poet reveals the nature of the God who created the lamb. Blake says that He is called by thy name, For He calls Himself a Lamb. This line reveals the nature of God, just as the lamb was described in the first stanza, God is also meek and mild. The creator is just like the creature. 

Then Blake says that he is both the lamb and the child, so he is both like the lamb, one which the poem is based on and also like the poet, who made this poem. Both the child and the lamb are called by his name and God resides in everything. 

In contrast with the Tyger, the Lamb is about innocence. The Tyger is in the anthology called Songs of Experience. In that poem, the poet talks about the fierceness of God’s creation and the incomprehensible strength of the creator. Blake is astonished by the hands and tools of such a creator that could make a tiger.

The Tyger is focused more on the destructive and dangerous power of God, expressed via the tiger. Here, the lamb shows the meek and mild nature of the same God. While each poem offers an aspect of God, it is when you read both the poems together, you get the duality of God, the contrast of power and meekness, of calm and calamity.

One can also say that The Lamb is a romantic poem because it has all the qualities for it. Romanticism is all about praise of nature and its creations, use of profuse imagination, hyperbolic representation of qualities, and lyrical rhyme to it. The Lamb has all of these qualities where, with the help of metaphor, the Lamb represents the people and God’s work is being praised in the poem.

This concludes the article. But there are more William Blake’s poems you can read. Take a look;

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