Human Innocent In William Blake's Poems The Lamb, And The Tyger

691 words - 3 pages

Swiss political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau is known for his conception of the “myth of the nobles savage,” which discusses the contrasts between natural human existence, and the corrupted, societal existence in which human beings adapt and grow. English poet and activist William Blake addresses the concept of human existence in his Romantic poems, “The Lamb,” and “The Tyger.” In both poems, Blake presents the ideals of innocence, and acquaintance, demonstrating the contradictions and similarities between untainted existence, and the effects of modern worldly life.

Blake’s “The Lamb” effectively establishes the sublimity and innocence surrounding the concept of natural existence. In the poem, the speaker innocently poses the question of the lamb’s origin, suggesting the naivety and impeccability of the speaker’s actions later in the poem. Additionally, the speaker, referencing the lamb’s wool as it’s “clothing,” affirms his/her lack of worldly experience. By the end of the poem, the speaker acknowledges that it is a child, stating “I [he is] a child & thou [his companion is] a lamb” (Blake 17), further revealing Blake’s attempts to encompass the innocence of childhood in his poem and explaining the purpose of his utilization of the calming and simplistic tone that is present throughout the poem. The speaker’s absence of logic and knowledge parallels Rousseau’s statements in “A Discourse on Inequality,” which stated that “…the more discoveries we [mankind] make[s], the more we deprive ourselves of the means of making the most important of all” (Rousseau 43). As a result of these statements in both the poem and Rousseau’s A Discourse…, readers are exposed to an alternative, slightly pessimistic view of economic and technological progress and expansion. Blake, who is known to have been a critic of the social and industrial changes that occurred during the Industrial Revolution, subtly uses “The Lamb” as an argument against humanistic and societal advancement, proposing his potential agreement with Rousseau’s myth.

The compilation of Blake’s work that includes “The Lamb,” “Songs of Innocence and Experience,” also includes another poem, “The Tyger,” which encompasses the opposing view of Rousseau’s myth of the noble savage, discussing the...

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