Study Guide

The Lamb Innocence

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Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee (lines 1-2)

The lamb is innocent of the knowledge of its creator. Does the lamb really need to know who its creator is? Do we? When children begin to ask this question to their parents, it's a sign of their growing experience and exposure to culture.

Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright; (lines 5-6)

Clothing? It's a small but telling detail. In the Christian Bible, Adam and Eve did not need clothing until they encountered the shame of sin. Clothing, then, is associated with experience, not innocence. That the child thinks of the lamb as wearing clothes rather than running around as blissfully naked shows that the culture bug has already bit him.

He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb: (lines 13-14)

In the Biblical Book of Genesis, Adam gives names to all the birds and the beasts, including, we assume, lambs. Adam's superior relation to nature is reflected in the child's teacher-like tone toward the lamb.

He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child: (lines 15-16)

The child doesn't mention any of the important events from the life of Christ, like his teachings, his death, and his struggles against the local religious orthodoxy. Instead, he naively focuses on the similarities between Jesus and himself: they were both kids!

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