Blake’s Songs Of Innocence And Experience

In William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, the gentle lamb and
the horrible tiger define childhood by setting a contrast between the
innocence of youth and the experience of age.

The Lamb is written with childish repetitions and a selection of words
which could amuse any audience under the age of five. Blake represents the
lamb as youthfulness. The Tyger is a very hard natured character compared
to The Lamb. The Tyger is a poem in which the author makes many inquiries,
almost chant like in their reiterations. The question at hand: could the
same creator have made both the tiger and the lamb? For William Blake, the
answer is a frightening one. The Romantic Period’s affinity towards
childhood is epitomized in the poetry of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and
Experience. “Little Lamb who made thee/ Dost thou know who made thee (Blake
The Lamb’s introductory lines set the style for what follows: an innocent
poem about a lamb and it’s creator. It is divided into two stanzas, the
first containing questions of whom it was who created such a docile
creature with “clothing of delight (Blake 6).” There are images of the lamb
frolicking in divine meadows and babbling brooks. The stanza closes with
the same inquiry which it began with. The second stanza begins with the
author claiming to know the lamb’s creator, and he proclaims that he will
tell him.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Blake then states that the lamb’s creator is none different then the lamb
itself. Jesus Christ is often described as a lamb, and Blake uses lines
such as “he is meek and he is mild (Blake 15)” to accomplish this. Blake
then makes it clear that the poem’s point of view is from that of a child,
when he says “I a child and thou a lamb (Blake 17).” The poem is one of a
child’s curiosity, untainted conception of creation, and love of all things
celestial. The Lamb’s nearly polar opposite is The Tyger. It’s the
difference between a feel-good minister waxing warm and fuzzy for Jesus,
and a fiery evangelist preaching a hellfire sermon. Instead of the innocent
lamb we now have the frightful tiger- the emblem of nature red in tooth and
claw- that embodies experience. William Blake’s words have turned from
heavenly to hellish in the transition from lamb to tiger. “Burnt the fire
of thine eye (Blake 6),” and “What the hand dare seize the fire (Blake 7)?”
are examples of how somber and serrated his language is in this poem. No
longer is the author asking about origins, but is now asking if he who made
the innocuous lamb was capable of making such a dreadful beast. Experience
asks questions unlike those of innocence. Innocence is “why and how?” while
experience is “why and how do things go wrong, and why me?” Innocence is
ignorance, and ignorance is, as they say, bliss. Innocence has not yet
experienced fiery tigers in its existence, but when it does, it wants to
know how lambs and tigers are supposed to co-exist. The poem begins with
“Could frame thy fearful symmetry (Blake 4)?” and ends with “Dare frame thy
fearful symmetry (Blake 11)?” This is important because when the author
initially poses the question, he wants to know who has the ability to make
such a creature. After more interrogation, the question evolves to “who
could create such a villain of its potential wrath, and why?” William
Blake’s implied answer is “God.” In the poems, innocence is exhilaration
and grace, contrasting with experience which is ill-favored and formidable.

According to Blake, God created all creatures, some in his image and others
in his antithesis. The Lamb is written in the frame of mind of a Romantic,
and The
Tyger sets a divergent Hadean image to make the former more holy. The Lamb,
William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is a befitting
representation of the purity of heart in childhood, which was the Romantic

Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Tyger and The Lamb.

The Longman Anthology of British Literature . Ed. David Damrosch. New York:
Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. 1999. 112, 120.