Category Archives: Formal Differences in “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”

Formal Differences in “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”

The formal differences between Blake’s “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” highlight the poet’s conflicting ideas concerning the dual nature of a creator. In both poems Blake uses rhymed couplets which suggests an overall order being imposed upon nature by a creator/artist, however, the assonance of the end rhymes in “The Lamb”, such as “thee” and “mead” (long e), “lamb” (long a), and “child” (long i), contrast in tonality with the harsher consonant end rhymes of “night” (short i, sharp t), “beat” (short e, sharp t), and “grasp” (short a, sharp p), found in “The Tyger”. The softer, soothing vowels of the former poem evoke a sense of comfort and reassurance which is also representative in the structure of the individual stanzas. While “The Lamb” has only two stanzas with indentations highlighting the comforting repetitions of “Little Lamb …”, in contrast, “The Tyger” uses violent, warlike vocabulary and is fragmented consisting of 6 stanzas whose only repetition is found in the lines “What immortal hand or eye / Could [Dare] frame thy fearful symmetry,” which creates an overwhelming sense of discomfort. Blake has also structured both poems to act as a sort of dialectic, however unlike “The Lamb” which has an answer for the question of “who made thee”, “The Tyger” offers no such reassurance, the question is left unanswered and the poem concludes with a question mark. While both poems ask similar questions about the nature of a creator, Blake reveals a complicated relationship he may have had with this creator, one in which the creator can both be “mild” but who can also “twist the sinews of thy heart”.