Comparing and Contrasting The Lamb and The Tyger

'The Lamb'

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Gave thee life and bid thee feed

By the stream and o'er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, wooly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I'll tell thee,

Little lamb, I'll tell thee:

He is called by thy name,

for he calls himself a Lamb.

He is meek and he is mild;

He became a little child.

I a child and thou a lamb,

We are called by his name.

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Little lamb, God bless thee!

'The Tyger'

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,

In the forests of the night

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors grasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water'd heaven with their tears,

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

A man named William Blake once wrote poetry. Two of his famous collections of poetry are Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. In Songs of Innocence, the poems are bright and happy, and those which tell stories (such as 'The Chimney Sweeper') always have 'happy endings'. These poems are said to show a child's outlook on the world-eager and innocent. In Songs of Experience, however, the mood changes completely. The poems all at once become darker, sadder, and more realistic, dropping the view of the innocent child and moving to the sight of a weathered, experienced adult who knows more of the 'real world' than he would like to. The two collections go together-that is, many of the poems in Songs of Innocence have corresponding poems in Songs of Experience. The Songs of Innocence will generally give the happier side of something, the 'bright side', while the sister poem in Songs of Experience will give the darker side. Many of the poems are religious, that is, to do with God. A prime example of the pairing of two poems is 'The Lamb' from Songs of Innocence and 'The Tyger' from Songs of Experience.

'The Lamb' begins by a child asking the lamb if it knows who made it. (The fact that the inquirer is a child is established later in the poem.) The answer, of course, is God. The child describes the gifts God has given the lamb-life, food, clothing, and a sweet voice. In the second stanza, the child tells the lamb that it was made by God, and that 'he calls himself a lamb', and that 'he...[is] a little child'. The poem ends with the child saying 'Little lamb, God bless thee!'

'The Tyger' asks who could have made the tyger. More exactly, it is asking who could have made such an evil being as the tyger. It begins with the question the poem is based on (What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?), and throughout the poem, the question is asked in different forms (i.e. And what shoulder, and what art, could twist the sinews of thy heart?).

'The Lamb' and 'The Tyger' are opposites. One is bright, cheery, and innocent. The other is dark and sinister. What could make these two poems go together, so closely that one cannot speak of one without bringing up the other? 'The Lamb' represents all the goodness in the world, the simple happiness. 'The Tyger' stands for the opposite, indirectly speaking of the complicated evils of the world. Combined, the question that the two ask is one well worthy of contemplation: How could such simple good, and such complex evil, exist in the same world? If one wanted to connect the poems to human nature, they could rephrase the question as follows: How can there be such good and evil contained in the same small, short-lived beings? How is it possible for a single small brain, a mass of atoms, to be capable of both wonderful good, and terrible evil, destroying all who come in contact with it? Religiously, the poems ask how one being (God) could have made all the good and evil, the ups and downs, of the world.

The two poems, 'The Lamb' and 'The Tyger', combined ask an incredibly deep question, to do with the very basis of the world as we know it-all the good, and the evil. A bright sunny day, running in a beautiful meadow far away from pollution and noise, lying on your back and seeing millions of stars-these are some simple joys of life, represented by 'The Lamb'. War, corruption, theft, murder-these are the complex evils, results of unfortunate parts of the human nature: represented by 'The Tyger'. In one line from 'The Tyger', particularly, there is an obvious comparison between the two poems-"Did he who made the lamb make thee?" Evidently, Blake is referring to the poem 'The Lamb'- asking if the same being (God) could have made the lamb and the tyger-good and evil. Together, these poems ask an almost unsolvable question of life-how can such good and such evil exist so naturally in the same world?