by William Blake
Analysis: Sound Check
Now that we've fawned over the little shepherd boy in the "Speaker Point of View" section of this guide, we're going to take the opposite approach. This poem sounds like an annoying kid circling around a hapless lamb and repeating himself endlessly. "Hey, Little Lamb. Do you know who made thee? Do you? Huh? I bet you don't know. I can tell you! Do you want me to tell you? OK, I'll tell you." In a poem that's only twenty lines long, eight of those lines consist of identical pairs ending with the word "thee."
And like many annoying children, this poem seems intent on dragging the show out as long as possible. Let's face it, if you have any basic knowledge of Christianity, you probably know right from the start where the speaker is going with the whole "Little Lamb who made thee" spiel. Jesus = Lamb of God.
Not only does the speaker prolong the answer well into the second stanza, but he also scatters the poem with unnecessary words and phrases. Did we need to be told that wool is "soft" and "bright" and "wooly" (line 6)? The whole poem has that ring of a Dr. Seuss book where the pleasant rhymes and rhythms guide you smoothly right on through, so you never have to think about what exactly a Truffula Tree is.
You might reply: aren't those extra words in there to preserve the strict, hymn-like rhythm with all the alternating stressed and unstressed beats? If so, you'd be right. But we think they are also there to leave no doubt that the speaker is a highly persistent child whose perspective, while tender and heartwarming, doesn't give a full account of the Christian religion.