One of the main features of Blake’s poetry is the plainness of the language he uses to communicate ideas, which in their nature are complicated and difficult to understand. In his book of poems Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake subjects to analysis such complex issues as contrasts in dualities of human nature and mind from the perspective of religion and the supernatural, attention to which is one of the main characteristic features of the Romantic period in literature as such. His poems “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” exhibit an apt example of these contrasts.
“The Lamb” starts with a set of questions asked in a compassionate and somewhat mentoring tone of a loving parent addressing the child, “Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost though know who made thee? Gave thee life & bid thee feed By the stream & o’er the mead; …” An author introduces religious symbol of the lamb, which is also a metaphor that extends through the poem. We can conclude that in this poem image of the lamb represents the humankind, main theme of the poem being a relationship between the humanity and God. Each line in the poem is written in short couplets, creating both effect of simplicity of technique and the mood of excitement in the theme of a poem. Basically, the poem directly answers the questions asked at the beginning, and draws to an obvious conclusion that God created the lamb and that He loves and takes care of it.
“The Tyger” reflects an absolutely opposite side of the human – God relationship. It also starts with a series of questions, “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright In the forest of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame the fearful symmetry”. However these questions are never answered directly. The author uses metaphor comparing tiger and his eyes to the fire, symbols of “distant deep”, which is hell, and “skies” meaning heaven. The image of a tiger is an extended metaphor of evil which challenges the goodness of God along with the idea of “The Lamb”. The imagery in “The Tyger” is severe and rigorous; it reflects another perspective of God: God powerful and God almighty, Who controls the very life. We come to realization that God created both the lamb and the tiger: two absolute opposites which, however, were brought to life in the same world.
Both the images are absolutely symmetrical in the ideas they convey, when viewed separately. The lamb represents absolute innocence and purity of a child, whereas the tiger – experience, perplexity of the unknown, a powerful threat. However, when masterly combined by the author of Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, these images suddenly establish a sense of a well-balanced human nature, beautiful and perfect in its asymmetry, crucial for a complete, integral individual.