While the metric scheme of Blake’s “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” is basically the same– the six-to-seven trochee – its rhythmic application varies strongly between the poems. “The Lamb” sometimes breaks the line into two rhythmic pieces composed of stressed-unstressed-stressed syllables. For example, if “Little Lamb I’ll tell thee” was to be read in the same rhythm as “For he calls himself a Lamb,” it would need an additional unstressed syllable between “lamb” and “I’ll tell” (Blake, 1789). Thus, instead of a continuous six-syllable trochee, the line splits two three-syllable sections. “The Tyger” does not break its lines into shorter rhythmical sections (Blake. 1794). This difference between short rhythmic utterances in the first poem and the long unbroken rhythms of the second signifies the difference between the speakers.
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Apart from that, “The Lamb” repeats the very same lines that are broken into shorter rhythmic sections. These are the first two and the last two lines of both stanzas, and the repetition stresses the shortness of the three-syllable sections into which the lines are divided (Blake, 1789). Conversely, “The Tyger” repeats the entire first stanza at the end, and it reads as smoothly as when first introduced (Blake. 1794). This repetition serves to emphasize patterns of speech – short repeated utterances in the first poem and the long, eloquent passages in the second one.
The speaker’s voice, thus, is clearly different in the two poems. The speaker in the first one is openly identified as a child, as evident from “I a child & thou a lamb” (Blake, 1789). In contrast, the more complex and rhythmically solid speech patterns of “The Tyger” reflect an adult speaker (Blake. 1794). It is particularly noteworthy considering the symbolical meaning of both animals, which represent far-clung aspects of divine creation. In “The Lamb,” the first stanza poses a question, and the second one answers it, suggesting that the titular lamb is such a simple creature that even a child can describe its essence accurately. Conversely, Meyer and Miller (2019) rightfully point out that “The Tyger” consists entirely of questions and gives no answers. The poems highlight the variety of creation, encompassing a simple manifestation of sweet innocence understandable for a child and the epitome of primordial dread so complex that even an adult can ponder its nature endlessly.
Blake, W. (1789). The lamb. Poetry Foundation. Web.
Blake, W. (1794). The tyger. Poetry Foundation. Web.
Meyer, M., & Miller, Q. (2019). Literature to go (4th ed.). Macmillan Higher Education.