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Could there be a creator that has the audacity to create one creature so pure, gentle, and innocent then, in turn, create another creature of a hideous nature, so terrifying that one could be driven to insanity just by thinking upon it? In William Blake’s poems “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” he describes such a creator as this. The reader will find that there are several similarities between the two poems, but in these similarities there are also various differences.
In William Blake’s poem “The Lamb” the speaker begins with the ultimate question, “Little Lamb, who made thee?/ Dost though know who made thee?/” (Blake lines 1-2). The speaker then continues to elaborate on the question in a playful, innocent, singsong manner describing the kindness and thoughtfulness that the creator put in to producing this ever so gentle lamb. The tone of this poem is soft and lulling, the tender, calm rhyme scheme puts the reader in a soothing, dreamlike state. “The words and images presented - stream, mead, delight, softest, tender and rejoice - are positive and pastoral. One can picture a lamb frolicking in the green grass…” (Smith).
In the second stanza the speaker restates the question, then proudly the speaker declares, “Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,/ Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!/” (Blake lines 11-12). Allusions to Christianity blossom in the poem at this point as the speaker states that the creator of this lamb is called by the same name. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is referred to as the lamb of God and/or the Sheppard, His followers are also referred to as His flock. The speaker then proceeds to state that he and the lamb are one and the same, ending the poem with “Little Lamb God bless thee./ Little Lamb God bless thee./(Blake lines 19-20) this invokes reassurance in the reader.
William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” also asks the ultimate question “What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?/” (Blake lines 3-4). The tone of this poem is more of a horrific nature. The speaker seems as if he is trying to escape this horrendous beast, the reader can almost feel the panic and terror that the speaker seems to be going through. “Blake creates this effect by drawing on several poetic devices”(Furr). The first of these is trochaic meter, which gives the poem an underlying beat or chant like quality.
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The speaker proceeds in the second stanza to answer the question who or what could have made this beast, with more questions. Since this beast is so horrendously terrifying, then the creator of this beast must also be unspeakably hideous, the reader can see that the speaker is a little confused as to why someone would want to create such a creature. Further more if this “tyger” is so prevailing and astounding then his creator must be doubly so. In stanza three the speaker describes the form of “the tyger” again questioning who “Could twist the sinews of thy heart?/” (Blake line 10). The reader will realize, in this stanza, that this creature is of massive proportions. The speaker goes on to illustrate the power that the beast and its creator have in stanza four.
In stanza five the speaker describes a type of universal devastation “When the stars threw down their spears,/ And water’d heaven with their tears,/” (Blake lines 17-18). The reader can assume that the heavens were mourning this appalling creation. The speaker continues pondering the creator’s, of this ferocious beast, sanity, “Did he smile his work to see?/ Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” (Blake lines 19-20). Is it possible that the same one that created the innocent gentle lamb could have created this atrocity?
Blake ends this poem in the same manner that he started it with one difference, instead of asking “could” like in the first stanza, he asks “What immortal hand or eye/ Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?/” (Blake lines 23-24). “Does ‘dare’, then, suggest not physical courage but moral indifference or recklessness (as in ‘how dare he?!’)” (Evans). At the end of this poem the reader is no closer to any clear answer of who the creator is than when they first began, unlike “The Lamb,” leaving the reader pondering to themselves with unrequited queries.