Sunday, July 30, 2006

William Blake's: "The Lamb" and "The Tyger"

I was reading some of William Blake's poetry the other day, and just wanted to compare and contrast his meanings of personal change that a person goes through as society jades that individual. The two animals Blake uses are the Lamb and the Tiger from his poems: "The Lamb" and "The Tyger." I will try to glean some meaning of these poems by juxtaposing them on one another.

In The Lamb, Blake shows the reader a lamb and a child, two symbols of innocence and religion. These two symbols live in a world of peace and tranquility, where a little boy asks and answers questions to a little lamb. The boy, with his innocent mind, makes the connection that baby Jesus was also called the lamb of God when says “We are called by his name” (Blake), and the images Blake shows throughout represent love and a relationship with Christ.

Contrasting the Lamb is the Tiger, a blood thirsty animal. Adding to the ferocity of the tiger is that it is forged from fire, with eyes that burn bright. As well, the tiger is more knowledgeable and experienced in the game of survival then the lamb. The image of the tiger contrasts Christian innocence by invoking pagan symbols. Fire, can best be seen as an analogy to Prometheus, the legendary Greek mini-god who brought fire, and essentially knowledge, to mankind. Thus being forged of fire is like being forged by experience.

It is only fitting Blake moves away from Christian symbols to show a maturation process in a person, as people themselves become less pure (and Christian) as they become more knowledgeable on the ways of the world.

So what is Blake getting at with these two poems?

Blake is ultimately showing that as people grow up, they too, like the tiger, become forged from the metaphorical fire, and begin to become vicious killers in the forests of the night. They no longer are the lambs of this world, sitting in a nice garden, sheltered away from the rest of the world.