The University of Toronto at Scarborough

ENGB02Y: English Literature: Historical Survey (SpringTerm)

Instructor: Melba Cuddy-Keane

William Blake, "The Lamb

- the speaker is a child; the poem reflects a child's language and way of thinking
- note the childlike structure of thought: the use of repetition
- the use of one syllable rhymes (feed/mead; child/mild) and identical rhymes: thee, name, lamb
- the structure is a simple question (stanza 1) and answer (stanza 2):
- but the child both asks and answers the question
- the child is thus his/her own teacher
- (there is no adult teacher, authority figure here)
- the emphasis on the child's relationship with the Lamb
- naming is usually an action which establishes power relationships:
- e.g. Adam names the beasts--establishes his superiority
- but here: "He is called by thy name" and "We are called by his name"
- is Christ (the Lamb of God) named for the Lamb, or is the Lamb named after Christ?
- the model here is of reciprocal naming
- ambiguity: who is the model for whom?
- logical distinctions don't matter: Christ is a Lamb; Christ is a child
- more an experience than a lesson
- ending not a moral but a feeling of love: "God bless thee"
- the child finds the Lamb lovable, the reader finds the child lovable

These notes are intended for the use of students in a lecture course; for any other use, please acknowledge this site.


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