The Lamb and Tyger
Literary analysis of William Blake's The Lamb and The Tyger. It contains critical appreciation of two poems....
William Blake surpasses the connotative limitations that the the phra phrase se ‘p ‘prrecur ecurso sorr to Roman omanti tici cism sm’’ cont contai ains ns as a signifer since he was an embodiment o multip tiple geniuses compacted into one fgure. Blake’s poetic crat is a collection o myriad pictures, a ‘mythography’ that embodi bodie es si sign gnif ifca can nt aspe aspect cts s cruc crucia iall to the the overa veralll theor theoreti etical cal struct structur ure e o Willi William am Blak Blake’s philos philosoph ophy y and metap metaphys hysics ics! ! those those aspect aspects s being being state state o childh childhood ood,, state o innocence, states o worldly e"perience, ce, repr epressi ession on,, su supp pprressi ession on owin owing g to di divi visi sive ve,, corr corrup upti ting ng,, dark darken enin ing g in in#u #uen ence ces, s, $ude $udeo! o!%h %hri rist stia ian n sy symb mbol olic ic meta meta!! structures, ethno!religious rituals and their psychosomatic psychosomatic implications. implications. &s anthologies that received his personal attention, the 'ong 'ongs s are are e"tra "traor ordi dina nary ry not not only only beca becaus use, e, as Bowra maintains, they constitute one o the most remarkable collections o lyrical poems in (nglish, but also due to the act that the they provide an e"clusive entry into the e"ceptional e"ceptional mythopoeic universe o Blake, Blake, populated with uni)ue symbolic constructs that make sense only in the world that he has both written and engraved into e"istence. *he 'ongs, one o +nnocence and another o ("perience, illustrate two contrary states o the human soul soul that that both both wor work in oppos pposit itio ion n to, to, and and ul ulti tim matel ately y complement each other, ! a principle o proound aith urther supported by the most ot!)uoted ma"im o Blake
‘without contraries there is no progression.’ progression.’ +n his scheme o things things,, *he 'ongs 'ongs o +nnoce +nnocence nce sig signi niy y ree reedom dom and liberty, purity and uninterrupted en-oyment whereas the 'ong 'ongs s o ("pe ("peri rien ence ce are are popu popula late ted d with with sy symb mbol ols s o chains, manacles and iron!rods, ferceness and -ealousy, deflement and corruption. But both states are inevitable as ar as the maturation!process o the human soul is con concer cerned ned in a all alle en, degr degra aded ded world rld o sh sha atte ttered dreams dreams and vitiated motis.
The Lamb: Blake’s verses with regard to the 'ongs o +nnocence and those o ("perience are meant or children, and this act encourages their depiction in nursery rhymes which he incorporated in his complicated mythography admirably and laudably, cautiously avoiding strong and hyperbolical e"pression o words, suiting the lines to the purpose o chil childi dish sh rhyth hythmi mic c st stru ruct ctur ure. e. *he *he limi limite ted d voca vocabu bula lary ry conse)uent upon it, thereore, was an ingredient unavourable to him on his way tow towards the goal o fnding e"pression to his elaborate metaphysical system. 'o )uit )uite e natu natura rall lly, y, the the poet poet soug sought ht the the assi assist stan ance ce o symbols, allegories and metaphors or transorming his abstract visionary images in to a concrete rom which might help the reader to ollow his way o thought in the words o F.W Bateson, ‘e used his symbols to e"press increasingly increasingly subtle and comple" intellectual distinction’. Blake, Blake, in his 'ongs o +nnocence, strives to represent represent the children out o the vicious circle o oppression and restore them them to a heav heaven enly ly st stat ate e o unpe unpert rtur urbe bed d bl blis iss s that that is
characteri/ed by purity, guiltlessness, liberty, vuln vulner erab abil ilit ity y and and unin uninhi hibi bite ted d en-o en-oym ymen entt o in inno noce cent nt ancie ancies. s. *he *he 0amb 0amb is a most most rema remark rkabl able e poem poem in which which the lamb is a symbol o 1*he 0amb o 2od that taketh away the sin o the world.3 +n this symbolic universe the harmlessness o the lamb and the purity o the heart o a chi child are noth nothin ing g but but the the manie iestati tatio ons o %hris hrist’ t’s s innocence innocence.. +n the world world o innocen innocence ce even the the meanest meanest creature such as a lamb is treated as having unbound divi di vini nity ty.. er ere is an e"clu "clusi sive ve unif unifca cati tion on o the the thre three e characters 4 %hrist, %hild, and the 0amb that constitute and enact the %hristian concept o *rinity in the world o innoce innocence nce.. *his *his identi identifc fcati ation on betwee between n the creat creator or and the created which accords a symbolic dimension to the lamb’s gentleness and meekness is raught with theolo theologic gical! al!me metap taphys hysica icall implic implicati ations ons.. *he line, line, ‘e is meek and he is mild ld’’ is an echo cho o Charles Wesley ’s 12entle $esus, meek and mild. d.3 3 +t under derlines the devotional motivation behind the poem and relates it to the tradition o moral tales or children which #ourished during the last decades o the 56 th century. %hrist is the 0amb o 2od the child is oten called 1little lamb3, a term o a7ec a7ecti tion on.. Bu Butt Bl Blak ake e also also wide widens ns the the reer eeren ence ce by recalli ecalling ng $eremi $eremiah, ah, ‘*hou, ‘*hou, 8 lord lord,, art art in the midst midst o us, and we are called by the name, leave us not,’ or ‘We are called by thy name9we are the lord’s chosen people’. *hese inter!te"tual inter!te"tual reminiscences reminiscences give richness and depth to an apparently simplistic sentiment and make it out as a prooundly religious religious view o the world. +t may be remembered in this connection that or Blake the true 2od is the 2od o love, o whom %hrist is the most perect
embodi bodim ment. ent. 'om 'ometim times the the poet spea peaks o im im in traditional %hristian terms, terms, as in the frst line o the 0ord’s :rayer, but usually he does not think o im as dwelling apart rom in heaven, or as an abstraction in the void ! e is within each one o us. 2od is the best sel o each o us, and in so ar as we live up to the highest that is within us we become 2od like. What Blake means is o course that that ther there e are are di divi vine ne )ual )ualit itie ies s in ever every y one one but but it is simultaneously more than that. &s a staunch believer in the divine nature o the aculty o imagination, or Blake 2od is the the source o it, e is def defned, ned, acce ccess ssed ed and reali/ed by it. *he concept o 2odhead, or him, is as immanent in the ;antian sense o the term as is imagination. imagination. *he 0amb, then, becomes a signifcant poem with mythopoeic overtones that underscores imaginative purity, an idea strengthened by the ‘lilly!ed lamb’ o the Book o *hel where purity is ollowed by soulul contentment and celestial ulfllment. +n the larger Blakean Blakean scheme the lamb symboli/es the tend tende er, sot and less ess har harsh aspect pects s o huma uman soul ul,, represents represents the our undamental )ualities o +nnocence as attested by Blake, namely, mercy, pity, peace and love acting acting,, there thereo ore re,, as a counte counterpa rpart rt to *he *yger yger in the 'ongs 'ongs o ("peri ("perien ence. ce. +n other other words words *he 0amb and *he *he *yger *yger represent represent two contrary states o the human soul the humility and innocence o childhood and the violent terriying eatures eat ures o maturity matu rity..
'ongs o ("perience records, records, in the poet’s own words, the conditions o ‘su7ering and distress’ that are not ‘natural to man’, but nonetheless pave the ine"orable way toward ("pe ("peri rien ence ce,, as he has has e"pla "plain ined ed in hi his s anno annota tati tion ons s to 'wedenbor 'wedenborg’s g’s a tiger but through that ob-ect embodied in a particular vocabulary, starting rom the the way way ‘tig ‘tiger er’’ is sp spel elle led. d. *he *he desc descri ript ptio ion n o ‘b ‘bur urni ning ng eyes’ or instan tance has got crucial uncertainties o mean meanin ing. g. :rima rimari rily ly the the phra phrase se itse itsel l mak makes the the whol whole e tiger a symbol o a burning )uality>wrath, passion and order. &gain the word ‘bright’ modifes the kind o burning suggested with an additional sense o illumination. Blake in this poem makes the use o symbolic language that stimulates a group o eelings, and attitudes that might reer to a multitude o associations. *he *yger *yger and *he 0amb, the two are the most representative representative poems o 'ongs o ("perience and o +nnocence. athleen aine says o these two poems, ‘9 rom many passages in Blake’s longer poems it seems that the ‘*yger’ is an embodiment o evil and a corruption o huma humani nity ty tige tigers rs and and lion lions s are are call called ed dehu dehuma mani ni/e /ed d men, 0amb and child, on the contrary, live in the vision o eternity, the world o $esus and the imagination.’ But ar rom rom being -ust a counte counterpa rpart rt to *he 0amb, 0amb, this this poem, evaluated rom a ully!reali/ed Blakean myth mythog ogra raph phy, y, beco become mes s some someth thin ing g in inco comp mprrehen ehensi sibl bly y vast vaster er in sc scop ope, e, too too ambi ambigu guou ous s to allo allow w a def defni niti tive ve interpretation. + the ‘orests’ in the poem, as or e"ample, repr epresent sent pol politic itical al oppr ppress ssio ion n signi gniyi yin ng the the post post!! revolution $acobin terror and persecution in @rance, then
it is evident that *yger stands out as a orce o liberation. &gain, as a staunch believer in the divine nature o the
aculty o imagination, or Blake 2od is the source o it, e is defned, accessed and reali/ed by it. *he concept o 2odhead, or him, is as immanent in the ;antian sense o the term as is imagination. *yger may, thereore, rom this this pers perspe pect ctiv ive e, e)ua )ually lly repre present ent the the organi gani/i /ing ng imag imagin inat atio ion n gene genera rati ting ng the the ‘ter ‘terri ribl ble e sy symm mmet etry ry’’ o the the beas beast, t, the the acu acult lty y o imag imagin inat atio ion n whic which, h, unr unrestr estrai aine ned, d, can have the apocalyptic maniestation in the fgure o a tige tigerr and and that that can can only only assu assurre the the cele celebr brat atio ion n o the the principle o imaginative reali/ation. reali/ation.