“The Lamb” from “Song of Innocence” – William Blake: analysis and themes
The poem “The Lamb” by William Blake is composed of twenty verses.
The poem opens with a question to which the last stanza provides the answer. The speaking voice of a child asks to a lamb if it knows who its Creator is, so he lists all the
gifts that this Creator bestowed on the animal. He gave it life, food, drink, wool to protect it from the cold and a ‘tender voice’ - the gift of song.
This creator is therefore good, loving and generous, but also ‘meek and mild’ as the lamb itself, as well as innocent and pure like a child. This lamb is at the same time a real animal and a symbolic image; it is perfectly happy because it lives in a natural state of freedom. The poet is like a child, who represents the free power of the imagination.
The sound devices used (alliterations, assonances, rhythm, rhymes) contribute to emphasize the reference to childhood by suggesting a similarity to nursery rhymes, but they also evoke the language of prayers and suggest an idea of harmony.
Moreover, William Blake gave in his poems a great importance to colors: for example, in “Song of Innocence” prevails white, black and red.
The poem is full of symbols: for example, the lamb is the archetype of innocence that belongs to Christian symbolism.