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Write about 'The Lamb' and 'The Tiger' by William Blake. Explain how the poet portrays these creatures and comment on what you consider to be the main ideas and attitudes of the poet.

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Introduction

Write about 'The Lamb' and 'The Tiger' by William Blake. Explain how the poet portrays these creatures and comment on what you consider to be the main ideas and attitudes of the poet. 'All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.' Cecil Frances Alexander Indeed, God created all creatures great and small, and he could not have created two creatures more different from each other than the lamb and the tiger. The question arises in one's mind therefore: - 'Could one creator design and give life to two exhibits of such a vast contrast?' William Blake certainly poses this question in a somewhat clever manner in the two examples of his work that I've analysed and compared, namely 'The Lamb' and 'The Tiger'. In the two collections of his work, namely Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, he has several contrasting poems that bring the two states of being described by both collections under the microscope. As one of the early Romance poets, Blake was writing in opposition to the rapidly changing, revolutionary eighteenth-century. Essentially, that opposition developed into an appreciation of the emotions, as opposed to reason ant intellect, and a recognition of the purity and innocence which childhood represents in contrast with the corruptions and in-authenticity of adulthood, with its learning and experience of life. The English Industrial Revolution played a very influential role in William Blake's work. Songs of Innocence includes a reversal of the expected 'hierarchies'. The poems reject the authority of the dominant culture over the individual and the authority of the rational mind over the imaginative faculties. Within the adult, the child is resurrected, liberating imagination, desire and creativity. On the other hand, we encounter the dark underside of the virtues upheld in traditional children's literature in Songs of Experience. The poems reveal the perversion of natural creative energy that results from repression and injustice, and the hardships of life and the world we live in. ...read more.

Middle

"...dread hand...dread feet..." and the mention of the 'chain', 'hammer' and 'anvil'. Focussing on that particular latter part, I suppose you could make the point that 'The Lamb' is very much a representative pf the pastoral age, when people kept sheep and lived mainly in the countryside, whereas 'The Tiger' might reflect the rapidly expanding industrial age in which Blake lived at the time. By contrast to the Lamb, the Tiger is presented as a ferocious animal of 'Fearful Symmetry', forged by some immortal, metaphorical blacksmith. It may be believed by many that Blake's imagery in 'The Tiger' is of a factory, and that the poet is thus expressing his dislike of industrialization. Although this interpretation is fair, I personally believe that specific details don't go far enough: although the poem contains elements of the devil and there's an 'evil edge' to the imagery, this view is not truly William Blake's. Blake does refer to the fall of Satan and his rebellious followers: - "When the stars threw down their spears, and water'd heaven with their tears..." but the poem isn't so much about the fall of Satan as it is about the fall of Man, not from innocence but into naivet�, and the necessity of being tested. The poet asks the Tiger the same questions as he does to the Lamb i.e. 'who made you'? Except, this time, he asks it differently and appears to leave the question unanswered. Step by step, the lines are regular, rhyming, but unlike 'The Lamb' the rhythm is heavy, as are the consonants. This Tiger 'stalks' the jungle, but what is this specific jungle? Is it literal? Perhaps, but no more than the Tiger itself is. This Tiger is a fearsome beast striding a fearsome land - is this a reference to man? If so, it is a terrific metaphor, which captures the loss of innocence due to the gain of experience in a person's life, and certainly displays the poet's feelings as he grows out of ...read more.

Conclusion

The God described by Blake in 'The Lamb' is very close to the Earth and its inhabitants, but its apparent that God is far away in 'distant deeps and skies' in 'The Tiger' - is this a suggestion of Blake losing his faith due to the horrors he's witnessed whilst developing from a child into an adult? If not, he's certainly questioning his faith; this is evident due to the fact that he cannot answer questions in his adulthood that he could've easily answered in his infant years. One definite difference between both poems is that they each represent the two extremes: the ultimate good and the ultimate bad - Heaven and Hell. Blake is contrasting the two aspects of human nature and perhaps underlining the fact that not all things created by God are good - some men have good intentions, some are quite the opposite. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience portray, as whole works, the dialectical progress of consciousness into fateful, yet powerful and necessary self-knowledge. The Lamb develops into the Tiger - innocence is the price that must me paid to attain an identity in 'grown-up land'. It has to sacrifice its meek, mild, gentile innocence to become the Tiger of Experience prowling the 'dark forests' of life. In conclusion, I feel William Blake is attempting to transmit an important message: never mind how innocent we are during our na�ve, happy playground days, the big bad world is awaiting us all, and we have to stop resisting and accept that we're all going to develop into Tigers at some point - gaining our own unique symmetry in place of our soft, delightful, tender selves. Life past, present and future poses many questions - it's up to us to answer them, to discover our true identities, and to decide where exactly our faith lies. Innocence is the foundation upon which experience is built. ...read more.

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