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The Lamb

The Lamb

by William Blake

Stanza II Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 11-12

Little lamb, I'll tell thee;
Little lamb, I'll tell thee:

  • Having just rhymed the one-syllable "thee" with, um, "thee," Blake doubles down and does it again.
  • The speaker announces that he will tell the lamb who its creator is.
  • For those of you keeping track at home, here's the box score for lines 9-12: "Little Lamb": 3, "thee": 4. "Thee" takes the lead!

Lines 13-14

He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.

  • Having promised to say outright who the lamb's creator is, the speaker now starts talking in riddles that avoid a clear answer.
  • The creator, he says, shares the same name as the lamb.
  • And what is the lamb's name? In fact, the lamb's name is "Lamb," and so is the creator's.

Lines 15-16

He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.

  • OK, we can put it off no longer: the Lamb is a symbol for Jesus Christ. In John 29 of the Bible, Jesus is called "The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." What this poem about innocence doesn't mention is that Christ is a like a lamb because lambs get sacrificed. Gulp.
  • In the English Christian tradition, Jesus has been called "meek" and "mild" for the way he submitted to God's will and for his gentle treatment of sinful humans. He "became a little child" when he was born into the world (which Christians celebrate on Christmas).
  • Blake's poem seems to borrow from the words of Englishman Charles Wesley, who published a hymn called "Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild" in 1742. Charles's brother, John Wesley, founded the Methodist Church. The hymn includes the line, "Lamb of God, I look to Thee." If you read the whole thing (read it here), you'll see just how much Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience resemble church songs.

Lines 17-18

I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.

  • The speaker reveals himself to be a child.
  • And the lamb…is still a lamb.
  • In fact, all the characters in this poem can be viewed as lambs: child, real lamb, and Jesus. They can also be seen as children – children of God. Got that?

Lines 19-20

Little lamb, God bless thee!
Little lamb, God bless thee!

  • In these lines, we imagine the child patting the lamb on the head and running off to find some new adventure.
  • He seems to have been instructing the lovable farm animal on the basics of the Christian religion.
  • He blesses the lamb twice, completing the pattern in which the lamb is addressed as "thee" two times at the beginning and end of each stanza.

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