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Analysis

The Lamb

Symbol Analysis

William Blake loves lambs. They connect religion with both the human and natural worlds, being associated with the rugged fields and valleys of the English countryside as well as with farming and country folk. Traditionally, lambs represent innocence. In the Christian Gospels, Jesus Christ is compared to a lamb because he goes meekly to be sacrificed on behalf of humanity. Moreover, lambs, as baby sheep, are connected to the theme of childhood that runs throughout the Songs of Innocence. By contrast, Songs of Experience contains only one reference to a lamb. The speaker of "The Tyger" asks, "Did he who made the lamb make thee?"

  • Lines 1-2: The imagined lamb is addressed using apostrophe. The speaker talks to the lamb as if it could understand him. Also, through being called "little," the lamb is domesticated and treated like a pet. Finally, "Little Lamb" is a clear example of alliteration.
  • Line 3: The story of the lamb's making is probably a distant allusion to the creation story in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.
  • Lines 5-6: The lamb is personified as having clothing, which is actually just its wool. The description of its "Softest clothing wooly bright" is one of the most sensual images in the poem.
  • Line 7: Animals make sounds, but we don't often think of them having "voices" unless we're personifying them.
  • Lines 9-10: This repeated address to the "Little Lamb" is the poem's refrain. "Dost thou know who made thee" is a rhetorical question. The speaker does not expect an answer from the bleating lamb.
  • Lines 11-12: If "The Lamb" were a pop song, you could think of the break between the two stanzas as the "bridge" that connects two choruses, or refrains.
  • Line 14: The Lamb is a symbol for Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
  • Line 18: The lamb is also a metaphor for the child speaker, who belongs to Christ's "flock." In Christianity, Jesus is compared both to a lamb going to the sacrifice and to a shepherd who protects his flock of lambs and sheep.
  • Lines 19-20: The poem ends with one more two-line refrain in which the child blesses the lamb.
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