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“The Lamb”, written by William Blake is a poem that has multiple themes to it; they are as follows: there is a theme of innocence, a theme of childhood, and a theme of religion. The first two themes are reinforced by imagery in this story, whereas the third theme is supported by some biblical allusions. Blake uses a combination of a consistent metaphor and repetition throughout the poem to strengthen his arguments. One of the key points of his use of repetition is to ensure that the reader knows exactly what Blake’s point is. The poem involves a simple rhyming scheme (ABAB), and the stanza lengths are among the norms. The reasons for all of these are about to be discussed in the following three paragraphs, and then it will be summarized at the conclusion. Blake ensures that he evokes revolutionary ideas in this poem; not in the sense of changing nations, but more in the sense of changing how an individual perceives themselves.
The first theme that Blake introduces is the idea of innocence. Throughout this poem, we’re shown that the lamb is innocent. There’s the idea that, since the lamb was created by God, it’s completely pure; the diction reinforces that. For specific examples of diction, there are words such as tender, mild, and delight; these are all positive. The choice of positivity is done deliberately, as Blake is attempting to show that the lamb only has positive qualities. This is similar to depictions of how a stereotypical child is innocent. As most children are innocent, this is a strong connection and metaphor to make, that hardly anyone would object to. The constant repetition of the theme is also similar to how an adult would repeat something to a child multiple times to make them understand what they’re saying; children don’t always understand something the very first time they’re told.
The second major theme that Blake introduces is the idea of childhood. This not only ties to the first theme of innocence in the poem; it actually strengthens it, due to reasons previously mentioned. The fashion in which Blake shows what childhood is to show to the reader that it’s okay to be unsure of things. Childhood is a time in a human’s life when uncertainty is a key aspect, as this is also the time where they do a lot of learning for later on in their life. The first hint of this is shown in the first stanza; it’s composed solely of questions, just like how a child will just constantly ask new questions while they’re young and/or just learning how to talk. It also demonstrates that the Lamb doesn’t know much about the world, and is still oblivious to how it works. This is repeated constantly throughout the poem, which could be related to how a child sometimes has to be told something multiple times before they will understand something.
To contrast the previous point, he introduces a volta between the two stanzas. This volta could be the adult in the child’s life answering all of the questions they are repetitively asking, with kind and caring words. This naivety that was demonstrated before is seen as acceptable to the adult, and they have no problems with all the questions they’re demanded. This is potentially a reference to how the Christian God is supposed to be omniscient, and knows all the answers, and will never be upset while their children are still learning about the world, and wondering how it works.
The third theme, and a major focus of Blakes’ writing in general, is the sense of religious creation. This isn’t an exception; Blake often incorporates religion into his poems. A specific example of this is in lines 16+17, where Blake states, “He became a little child: I a child, and thou a lamb, …” This is a biblical allusion to how Jesus transformed into Christ (in context of the story, the little lamb turned into a fully mature lamb). We can associate the capitalization of, “Lamb”, in line 14, as an expression for how the, “G” in, “God”, is capitalized.
In conclusion, Blake uses a lot of literary terms to convey the information presented in this poem. He not only demonstrates that it’s okay to be naïve about the world, and to ask questions, but he states that everyone is important and special, even if they’re ignorant to that fact. This poem is a positive metaphor that Blake gifts to his readers, and it’s a thoroughly pleasant reading experience. He incorporates religion into this poem to also give himself a sense of hope; as if he’s talking to himself.