The main theme is innocence and its vitality to spirituality. William Blake uses the voice of a child and the lamb to symbolize innocence.
Illustrations: Literary and stylistic devices in the poem that embody the feeling of innocence. An explanation of the lamb as a symbol of innocence and its relationship with the child.
The conclusion: Reiterates the main theme of innocence by stating and explaining the religious undertone of the poem.
Essay analysis of William Blake’s"The lamb"
The voice in William Blake’spoem, “The Lamb”, is that of a child. The child has questionsthat they yearn to get answers. Thus, the child exhibits innocence.The theme of innocence is symbolized by the lamb and the voice of achild seeking answers about the origin of the lamb. Blake used achild and a lamb to embody the entire poem in the incense that thetwo signify in religious terms. Considering that the poem is just oneof other poems in the songs of innocence and experience collection,innocence if a prominent theme. Children are innocent and theynormally look at life naturally without an ill heart. From areligious perspective, a lamb symbolizes the purity that comes withbeing innocent. Blake was a penchant of symbolism where he usedlambs to signify themes that had a religious undertone. In Blake’sown words lambs are “soft, happy, and make cool noises”, that areprobably pleasant to the ear. Furthermore, a lamb symbolizes JesusChrist as it is historically known, and the way Christians perceivehim. The child’s voice in the poem refers to the lamb as the reasonfor people to rejoice and be happy, implying that it shares thecharacteristics of Jesus Christ. The child’s voice in the poemreveals an already formed attitude towards the lamb an attitude thatassociates the lamb with holiness, humility, obedience, and chaste. The lamb, according to the child, should know who really brought itinto being because its creator seems to be as holy, as meek and withthe chaste that the lamb exhibits. Thus, William Blake’s poem, ‘TheLamb”, is all about the innocence that comes with spirituality, thechastity that Christ embodies and expects Christians to embody, andthe meekness of God in the depiction of nature, specifically thelamb.
There are several aspects in thepoem that suggest the insistence on innocence as a quality thatsignifies chastity and meekness, and the appropriateness of the twoto Christian spirituality. Literary devices such as repetition elicitsome musicality that suggests that probably the child was singing tothe lamb. Musicality through repetitive rhyme schemes symbolizes theadmiration the child has over the lamb. A musical tone in the firsttwo lines and last line of the two stanzas use vowel sounds to rhyme.Vowel sounds are soft and affectionate, signifying the softness ofthe lamb its relationship with the child. Blake specifically usesalliteration and euphony as repetitive devices reveal a mellifluousattitude that the child has on the lamb(McLaughlin 80).For instance, the following lines in the first stanza support thisassertion:
“Little Lamb I’ll tell thee”(Blake 40) Little Lamb I’ll tell thee! (40)
The ‘L’ is a repeatedconsonant sound in the words little and lamb. The alliterationemphasizes the pleasance and innocence look of the lamb. The samesentence is repeated in the second stanza, but with an interjectionmark. The exclamation reiterates the feelings of awe and delight thatthe lamb has brought to the child. The ‘L’ is letter in the twostanzas is also a repetitive euphony, which also reiterates the themeof innocence and pleasantness of the lamb. ‘L’ is a softconsonant that pleases the reader through the eyes of the tone of thepersona in the poem.
The voice in the poem picks upthe tone of a child in line seventeen. However, the connotations ofinnocence in the poem are outright from the beginning. The firststanza reveals the innocence of the lambing by not knowing itscreator. The lamb also has no idea the joy that it brings to theentire vale. The child in the poem poses rhetorical questions to thelamb with utmost curiosity. The reader knows that the person is achild when the persona says, “I a child’, in line seventeen. Inthe literal sense it is a child speaking. In the past, especially inJewish culture children used to look after sheep. Therefore, it isliterally possible that the child is speaking to an innocent lamb inthe grazing field. However, line fourteen reveals the logic behindthe lamb. As mentioned above, the lamb is indeed the symbol ofChrist. The line clearly states, “For he calls himself a lamb”(40), referring to a verse in the where Jesus referred to himself asthe “lamb of God” (40). Thus, the child’s voice suggests thatall people are children of God while the lamb is Jesus Christ. Blakeintended to show that the little child was innocent by writing that“he became a little child”, meaning that Christ is a lamb thatwas once a little child like him.
In conclusion, William Blake’spoem, ‘The Lamb”, is all about the innocence that comes withspirituality, the chastity that Christ embodies and expectsChristians to embody, and the meekness of God in the depiction ofnature, specifically the lamb. All the stylistic and literary devicesBlake uses to deliver the poem restate innocence as an ultimateaspect of spirituality. Indeed, it is a typically religious poem.
Blake, William. Songsof Innocence and of Experience.Vol. 2. Princeton University Press, 1994.
McLaughlin,Thomas. "Figurative language." Criticalterms for literary study(1990): 80-90.