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 wooly bright; Gave thee such a tender voice, Making all the vales rejoice! Little Lamb who made thee Dost thou know who made thee
A childlike sense of delight and wonder at God’s creation pervades “The Lamb,” from Songs of Innocence. The speaker, a child, addresses a lamb, using simple lyrics that sound like a nursery rhyme or children’s song. Blake’s details establish the pastoral setting. Blake also begins to personify the lamb by giving the creature clothing and a voice. The lamb appears frequently as a motif in Blake’s poems, symbolizing innocence and security as well as Christ, the Lamb of God.
Look on the rising sun: there God does live And gives his light, and gives his heat away. And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive Comfort in morning joy in the noon day.
Like other Romantic poets, Blake attempted to recapture simpler, more natural times by appealing to folk traditions. “The Little Black Boy” is a musical dialogue, an ancient form of folk ballad. In the third stanza, the mother reassures her son about his place in God’s creation. Blake equates God with life and nature and envisions an ideal world of divine harmony. Blake often used the sun as a motif in his poems and their accompanying illustrations. The sun stands for divine creative energy and intellectual enlightenment.
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?
In “The Tyger,” Blake describes the creation of a fearful, deadly beast. The image of God smiling as he creates an animal that could destroy a lamb may unsettle readers. However, Blake does not portray the tiger as evil—he is in awe of the tiger’s beauty and power. His rhetorical questions suggest that the Creator exists beyond human definitions of good and evil. Like all of the Songs of Experience, “The Tyger” assumes a world in which fear, danger, and terror are always present.
Then Cruelty knits a snare, And spreads his baits with care. He sits down with holy fears, And waters the ground with tears: Then Humility takes its root Underneath his foot.
In “The Human Abstract,” the poetic voice—a prophet or bard—portrays cruelty first as a trapper who uses fear as bait and then as a cultivator of humility. Blake personifies cruelty in order to emphasize that organized religion and conventional morality were merely created by the human brain. In the rest of the poem, Blake extends the metaphor of a tree and uses allegory to describe how humility creates “the dismal shade of Mystery” and “bears the fruit of Deceit.”