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“The Tyger” VS “The Lamb” by William Blake Essay

The two poems that I will analyse in depth, “The Lamb”, and “The Tyger” has many comparisons and contrasts between the two, although the same writer, William Blake, wrote them. He was born in London on 28, 1757 a period of time when enormous and rapid changes occurred in Europe, like the “Industrial”, “Agricultural” and the “French” revolutions. These “changes” in his life reflects his background and also had an effect on his style of writing. I will be looking at the subjects and themes of the poem and also focus at how Blake uses imagery, structure and form to create effects.

The two poems “The Tyger” and “The Lamb” are based on the numerous events that happened in Blake’s time. For an example, “The Tyger” is based on the “Industrial” and “French” revolutions. The French Revolutionists were known as the “tigerish multitude”. While “The Lamb” is based on the “Agricultural Revolution”, the lamb symbolises life, growth and birth. But in a deeper level, there is one another theme that applies for both of the poems. The main concern for both of the poems is the “nature of God”. Undoubtedly, Blake admires the creator of the lamb. But when he moves onto the Tyger, Blake seems baffled as well as mystified. Although he admires the creature, he cannot understand how someone could create such an innocent creature and at the same time, create such a ferocious predator.

Then Blake thinks, maybe if there are two different creators. But Blake wonders if, just maybe it is the same creator. The quote, “Did he who make the lamb, make thee?” shows his thoughts. There is no answer provided in the poem and it is left unsolved. But in truth, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” is seen as a choice a man makes in his life. To go with the lamb means to choose God, to choose the path of righteousness and justice. To follow the Tyger is to choose the path of damnation and injustice. But you cannot have one without the other. Having both of them makes the world go around, and allow man to progress in life.

Therefore the deeper true theme for the two poems is that the world is balanced, into good and evil. Good being lamb and the Tyger being the evil. In a way, the two poems are in relation to each other, but it is interesting to see how the tone is very different. The tone of The Lamb is very gentle and frivolous, which is shown by words such as “softest clothing” and “tender voice”. But in “The Tyger”, words like “burning bright” and “twist the sinews” illustrates that the tone is much more compelling and dramatic.

There is a considerable amount of imagery in the first two lines alone. “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright In the forest of the night.” After reading these two lines, the reader is enabled to envisage an image of a tiger with a coat of blazing fire, burning brightly among the dark forest. This creates a pessimistic impression of the tiger; therefore some might say that it is a symbolic of evil. Or further on, expanded, they may bring to a close that the tiger is a symbol of Satan. In the first two lines of the second stanza, the same imagery is used. “In what distance deeps or skies, Burnt the fire of thine eyes?”

The image of the “distance deeps or skies” again corresponds to the image of a dominion of darkness and evil, which is undeniably an interpretation of hell. Also the image of the burning eyes may be seen as the tiger’s eye themselves, symbolising ferocity. Which takes no great imagining or expanding to think it as the Satan’s eyes themselves. Therefore, the images in the poem greatly contribute to the negative impression of the tiger, and create intense suspense and anxiety. In Contrast to “The Tyger”, “The Lamb” is very positive and merrier. in “The Lamb”, there is again a lavish amount of imagery, which has many effects on the reader and the poem itself.

First of all, the Lamb represents Jesus. “By the stream and o’er the mead” this quote enables the readers to imagine a field of grass, with a small lamb, everything looking peaceful and in order. Then the poem states, “Softest clothing of delight, Softest clothing, woolly, bright” which clearly describes the innocent lamb and at the same time portray Jesus. Then it is followed by, “Gave thee such a tender voice, Making all the vales rejoice?”. This again, is corresponding to Jesus as well as the innocent lamb. People who read this poem may conclude that unlike “The Tyger”, the lamb is a symbolic of good and justice, which inevitably guides to the result that the lamb is a symbol of Jesus.

For the fact that the two poems are reciprocal and poems with a bond, the structure and form between the two are very similar. Both poems take the form of a conversation with the representing animal. “The Tyger” is structured by six four-line stanzas, all of them consisting of unanswered questions. “The Tyger”‘s lyrics contain of usually seven syllables, with pairs of rhyming couplets. The fourth stanza is the prime example. “What the hammer? What the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? The lyrics in pattern and the rhyming couplets create a sense of rhythm and continuity. In the first and the last stanzas, a repetition is apparent. “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright”, the word “Tyger” is repeated to emphasise the creature and to sound powerful and bold.

“The Lamb” is structured in two stanzas, where simply the first stanza poses the questions and the second answers them. “The Lamb” is inevitably in an innocent context, and the word “little” is continually repeated stressing the youth of the lamb. Similar to “The Tyger”, “The Lamb” is structured with pairs of rhyming couplets. “Gave thee clothing or delight, Softest clothing woolly, bright; Gave thee such a tender voice, Making all the vales rejoices”. The rhythm is soft and gentle, possessing a childlike quality.

Also the poem has an upbeat and it is “springy”, which are the qualities that lamb possesses. In the second stanza, there are two lines that repeat consecutively. “Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee, Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.” and “Little Lamb, God bless thee! Little Lamb, God bless thee!” Repetitions are used because the set of lines that repeated, are the main themes for the poem, and it is the true answer to all the questions asked in the first stanza.

It is very remarkable that “The Tyger” and “The Lamb” explores different ideas about God and man. I came to a conclusion that the tiger is a symbol of Satan, while the lamb is symbolising God. Also the two different poems may be seen as a choice, a man makes in his life. To be “good” or “evil”, this is an evident factor, because as we know it, God gave us freedom and the right to choose how to live. Also the poem is written with a significant amount of imagery to contribute to the theme and to its spiritual aspects and the two poems are structured very similar. Therefore between the two poems there are numerous contrasts and comparisons.

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