Discuss the use of imagery in William Blake's poems "The Lamb" and "The Tyger."

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In “The Lamb,” Blake’s images are soft and light, suggesting innocence and purity. The speaker questions who made the lamb and says that its creator gave it soft wool, “clothing of delight.” In addition, the lamb’s voice is “tender,” which gives the valleys great happiness. The lamb travels over meadows and next to streams of water, which are peaceful images. The speaker answers his own question by telling the lamb that God has created it to be “meek” and “mild” just as he (God) is. The soft and harmonious images throughout the poem leave the reader in a tranquil state.

By contrast, in “The Tyger,” Blake’s images are harsh and fiery. The speaker also questions who made the tiger but states that it was created in the harsh fire of a furnace. The images of heat and burning run throughout the poem. The speaker tells the tiger that it was created with hard tools, such as an anvil, hammer, and chain. It is easy to picture the tiger’s eyes burning, since it was fashioned from fire, and its deadly nature, since it has “fearful symmetry.” The speaker concludes that when the tiger was created, the stars “water’d heaven with their tears.” Here, water creates a negative image, since it comes from tears, which speak of sadness. The harsh imagery of the poem leaves the reader in a fearful state.

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