In "The Lamb" and "The Tiger," is Blake concerned with the creator?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes. Both poems ponder the nature of God. The two poems are often paired. Let's consider "Tyger, Tyger" first. Stanza are cited first; my analysis appears in brackets below each section:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

(The speaker wonders what sort of God could create something so "fearful"...fierce and yet wonderful.)

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

(What sort of a God would be bold enough and strong enough to forge such a fearsome creature?)

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

(Not only is this God awesome, he is a consummate artist, beautifully crafting the tiger's sinewy strength. The power of such an artist inspires a dreadful, respectful fear in the speaker.)

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

(As he ponders the wonder of the tiger, the human speaker contemplates the methods of God. All of the questions will go unanswered. The power of God will be marveled at by man, but his methods never known.)

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

(The speaker, still awed by God's power, is left to further wonder how a God capable of making such a deadly creature could also make the defenseless lamb. Though it seems that he knows both were made by the same God, the dichotomy of the creation is mind-boggling.)

"The Lamb" considers the nature of man from the perspective of God's most helpless creatures. The speaker is comparing the helplessness of man to the defenseless lamb. Humans, he argues, like the lamb, are led and sustained by God alone. It is through his grace that we live at all. The repeated lines, "little lamb" are an allusion to the followers of Christ. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the "shepherd of his people" and also as "the lamb of God." By linking both the sheep and the shepherd, the speaker is saying that all of God's children experience divinity.

Does 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, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little lamb, who made thee?
Does 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!

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes. In both poems Blake reflects on and praises the wonder of natural creation. He blends a kind of Romantic love of nature with a more spiritual (even mystical) appreciation for creation, finding in the form of the lamb and the tiger evidence of a wondrous creation.

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arjun | Student

The Tiger and the lamb both represent two different states of human soul. The tiger is the symbol of power, where as the lamb is of innocence, mildness and beauty. When the lamb is destroyed by the experience, the tiger is needed to restore the world.
The tiger deals with the immense problem of evil. His God is essentially personal, there fore, evil must be his wrath. According to the poet, the wrath of lion is the wisdom of God. The great purpose of it is to consume error, to annihibilate those stubborn beliefs which can’t be removed by the tame horses of instruction.
Actually the Creator calls himself a lamb. He is meek and mild according to His attributes. So He is a little child Spreading love and its prosperity. And in case of the tiger, He is like that and the form must be supplied him is now the Promethean Smith work violently at his forge. The tiger is image of the Creator; its deadly terror must be His.
The speaker does not even know, if the same power created both the tiger and the lamb.
The both are images of God, one shows love and the other shows terror or wrath. Besides, little Lamb is the symbol of Christ and the child. Christ is meek and mild like a lamb.
He became a little child,
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
So, it is clear that Blake is concerned with the Creator.

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