William Blake’s Lamb | The Lamb Meaning William Blake, Structure, Themes, Literary Devices

The Lamb Meaning Poem: ‘The Lamb’ by William Blake has published in his 1789 collection The Songs of Innocence. This poem is considered one of the great lyrics of English Literature. The verse represents the amalgamation of the Christian script and pastoral tradition in the form of a dialogue or conversation between a child and the Lamb.

In this poem, the Lamb has been considered a universal symbol of selfless innocence. It represents Jesus as a gentle image of Divine Humanity. The Lamb associates with Christ to form a Trinity of child, Lamb, and Redeemer.

The poem emphasizes charity’s ideals with a specific justification of Christian compassion and Caritas or caring, the ideals of the Lamb of God. Moreover, the Christian undertone constitutes the philosophies of sacrifice, death and tragedy.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

This is one of the most straightforward poems of William Blake. It has deep symbolic meaning, which is almost relevant throughout the poem. The purpose of symbolization of child, Lamb and Christ are interconnected and deeply connected with Christian mythology. The poem sets off with a child-like directness and innocence and natural world, which lacks the signs of grown-ups or adulthood and is much simple.

The Lamb Meaning Summary

The poem, ‘The Lamb’ by William Blake is a very heart-warming and inquisitive poem. The poet symbolizes the Lamb as Christ, innocence and also, the nature of God’s creation.

The Lamb is the most representative poem as included in ‘The Songs of Innocence’. This poem’s most important characteristic feature is that it has every substance to represent the symbolization as been attempted by the poet.

The child is a symbol of innocence, a pure soul that has not yet been corrupted or manipulated by the world of conventionalized pretensions, including religion, culture, society and state and other codified systems. This poem subtly approaches the subject of creativity and the creator.

While the speaker speaks about an actual physical lamb, the poem’s subtext has an essence of Christian and classical mythology. The child has been symbolized as Christ, the physical incarnation of the Supreme Being. As the poet describes the actions where it has been sent to feed among the meadow and along the stream, there is a clear indication that it is to live by natural, instinctual means or the Divine law of nature.

The fuzzy softness and the brightness that comes from within support the Lamb’s divine nature as a symbol. The voice of the Lamb is equally relevant in verse. The child, the Lamb and Christ, are interrelated and are all close to the creative being. The poet has said that creativity is a child-like trade as it involves the natural spirit, sense of wonder and pure imagination.

Throughout the poem, the poet speaks to the Lamb, asking whether it knows how it was created. He also refers to the vague details about Christ, his nature while using multiple repetitions to highlight such features.

Summary of The Lamb

The Lamb Themes

Blake has touched on the themes of religion, innocence, and morality in ‘The Lamb’. Throughout the entire verse, he or his speaker has appreciated God and his representation.

The “lamb,” or Christ, should be celebrated by all those who can see or hear him. Its innocence is one of the most striking features. All people should strive for Lamb’s image as it is a symbol of purity and innocence.

The Lamb Structure

‘The Lamb’ has been written in rhymed couplets in a basic trochaic metre, often found in children’s verses. Hence, it amplifies the images of simplicity, purity and perfection. The opening and closing couplets of each stanza change by employing a pentameter ‘made thee’, which makes them more emphatic, grabs the reader’s attention and slows down his speed of proceeding further into the poem.

The use of repetitive pattern, with distinct differences in the opening and closing couplets, frames the questions and answers emphasize the idea that this is a catechism or almost like a child’s riddle.

Literary Devices of The Lamb

Throughout the poem, we can see the implementation of various literary devices used by William Blake, including alliteration, enjambment, repetition and many more. The use of repetition is common throughout the verse by reusing certain lines and phrases like “Little Lamb I’ll tell thee” in the second stanza.

This intensifies the nursery rhyme-like sound of the poetry. Enjambment is a technique that helps with the flow of this particular poem, which maintains a certain continuity—for example, the transitions between lines one and two of the first stanza.

Alliteration is a beneficial technique that poets use for emphasizing particular phrases or amplifying the rhyme and rhythm of the poem. Alliteration is known as the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

This is a kind of repetition that is concerned with using and reusing the same consonant sound at the beginning of words. For example, the terms “Little Lamb” in line one of the first stanza and “meek” and “mild” in line five of the second stanza.

Detailed Analysis of The Lamb

Stanza One

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Gave thee life & bid thee feed.

By the stream & o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing woolly bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice!

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

The Lamb is a doctrinal poem where the poet pays tribute to Lord Christ, who was innocent and pure like a child and meek and mild like a lamb. The poet addresses Lamb itself, which is pure, innocent, and it is associated with Christ.

Being a visionary, Blake introduces the readers to a world free from reasoning, according to the Lamb’s imagination and vision. The child asks who made the little Lamb in a typical child’s tone, rhythm and diction.

The Lamb, he says, has been given the “clothing of delight”, soft and ‘woolly’ clothing, and such a tender voice that makes all the values rejoice and the delicate bleating sound resounds a happy note in the adjacent low-lying valleys.

The stanza has an essence of the child’s innocence which is the first stage in Blake’s journey to the truth: “The Child of Innocence lives by intuition enjoys a spontaneous communion with nature and sees the divine in all things.”

We find a realistic and sympathetic portrait of a lamb, as presented by the poet. The symbolic meaning goes much deeper with further progression into the verse. As found by the readers, the poem is based on the biblical hope that “meek shall inherit the world”.

Stanza Two

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 & he is mild,

He became a little child:

I a child & thou a lamb,

We are called by his name.

Little Lamb God bless thee.

Little Lamb God bless thee.

In the second stanza, there’s an identification and association of the Lamb, Christ, and the child. Christ has another name: Lamb because Christ exhibits similarities with the Lamb, being meek and mild.

Christ is considered the son of God and was an innocent child. The child enjoys the Lamb’s company, which is somewhat similar to innocence and purity. The poem depicts innocence, joy and affection. The Lamb, in this poem, represents innocence and humanity.

The poem delivers an image of the free spirit of childhood, the purity, the innocence, the tenderness, and the affection and empathy that a child feels for little creatures like a lamb. There are also implications of Christian symbolism where the child is also looked at as a symbol representing Christ. The pastoral setting is yet another symbol of innocence and joy.

The Lamb has got clothes of “delight”, which is the first indication of this poem’s symbolic meaning. The Lamb is a symbol representing the innocent state of the soul, a dweller of the world of innocence and an emblem of purity, naturalness, and spiritual, original and natural being.

The term ‘woolly’ also implies Christ having soft woolly hair during his birth. The brightness has been used as an indication of the halo or shining on the pure being. The voice could also be the word of Christ or that or the visionary and creative being, the poet and the prophet.

A religious note is also there in the poem because of the image of Christ as a child. The pastoral poem note in Blake is yet another symbol of merry and innocence. Jesus Christ has also been symbolized as a lamb as the poet, a resemblance between meek and mild, meaning submissive and soft-hearted, and Jesus also became a child for humanity’s sake. The narrator is a child, he is Lamb, and Jesus’s name calls them both.

William Blake’s Lamb

Personal Comments

William Blake’s Lamb has been written in question-and-answer form, or rather an inquisitive dialogue form between a child and a lamb. The first descriptive and rural, whereas in the second stanza, the poet has emphasized abstract spiritual matters and consists of correlations, metaphors and explanation.

The child’s question is heartfelt and naïve, and the innocence of the situation has been given importance by the apostrophic form of the poem, which is much more than literary convenience.

As the poem progresses further, the child succeeds in converting it into a rhetorical one, which results in countering the poem’s initial spontaneous sense. The answer is depicted as a puzzle that helps in contributing to an essential purpose of satirical knowingness or deceit in the poem. The answers disclose his self-reliance and faith in Christian philosophies and innocent acceptance of its teachings.

Life of William Blake

William Blake was an eminent poet among the pioneers of the Romantic Revival in English. He was born in London in November 1757 to his father, James Blake and his mother, Catherine, who were both Protestant Christians. They had five children in their family, of which Blake was the second one.

Since childhood, denial and deprivation of love from family have helped Blake create his imaginary world. Blake was sent to a good drawing school at the age of seven, and in 1772, under James Besire, he started an apprenticeship in engraving for seven years.

He was appointed as an engraver in the London Society of Antiquaries. He mastered his skill of artwork as well as acquired some of his poetic and political mindset. In 1779 he got admission to study at the Royal Academy and, within a year, began exhibited pictures there, often with historical themes.

At twenty-four, he married Catherine Boucher, who lacked formal knowledge. Blake educated her and taught her to make colours and prints. He had no children but raised his younger brother, Robert, as his child. He nursed him and taught him drawing.

Blake was considered whimsical by his contemporaries for his peculiar but individualistic viewpoints. His works are highly regarded and appreciated by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity and the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.

His paintings and poetry have the quintessence of the Romantic movement, and as “Pre-Romantic”, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions.

Similar Poems Related to The Lamb

‘The Lamb’ is one of Blake’s famous poems. There are many others on a similar matter, whether religion or nature, which are equally good. These are ‘The Divine Image,’ ‘Auguries of Innocence,’ and ‘The Garden of Love. There are works of other poets with the same subject matter, which include ‘Holy Innocents’ by Christina Rossetti and ‘First Sight ‘by Philip Larkin.

Works of William Blake

Poet, painter, engraver, and visionary William Blake worked to bring about a change both in the social order and in men’s minds in his period. He is considered one of the great primogenitors of English Romanticism; his visual artwork is highly regarded worldwide.

William Blake’s poetry is delightful and equally challenging. His poetry has a wide range of appeal, from the ambiguous tempo of his lullaby-like pastorals and songs to the troubling notes of the tragedy of the void or empty soul and the stormy music of the oracular works.

Blake’s writings can be classified as:

  1. Lyrical poems, which include Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, his famous works.
  2. Irregular rhyme-less verse
  3. Rhythmic prose
  4. Descriptive and critical prose