William Blake’s two poems, The Tyger and The Lamb have a number of critical similarities that demand analysis. As a poet, Blake was a complex thinker, and he often used symbolism to get across his points. The two chosen poems are ripe for comparison because, among other things, they both feature animal symbolism and they relatively similar forms. As short poems, they are not particularly difficult to understand, and one can learn important things about the poet by thinking hard about their similarities and differences.
One of the most striking similarities between the two poems is that they employ roughly the same rhyme structure. In both poems, there is a certain amount of lyrical rhythm. The first two lines rhyme, and then every two line set from then on rhymes throughout both poems. This is an incredibly simple means of creating poetry, but it is potentially quite effective. It allows the poem to have a song-like appearance, making it quite easy as a read for all readers.
In terms of content, both poems refer to roughly the same idea. There are questions abounding with each poem about creation, posing questions about how the lamb or the tiger came to be. Both poems refer to an outside, independent object that is credited with creating the animals with different personality traits and characteristics. Tigers, of course, are strong, violent, and potentially threatening. Lambs are meek and full of wanderlust. Despite these differences, the poems have roughly the same theme, questioning why each animal was given the characteristics that it was given.
There is an interesting contrast between the two animals, of course, and this is where the differences in the poems begin. Lambs are not supposed to be strong, and they are not thought of as being at all threatening. How, then, could a creator have put together both the lamb and the tiger, which has all of the characteristics that a lamb lacks? These differences drive at the heart of the poem.
There exists an interesting rhetorical methodology that the poet uses in his two poems. In The Tyger, Blake continually uses questions. This rhetorical strategy has him posing questions to the tiger in the story, but he never answers those questions. Rather, the questions are simply used by the poet as a means of communicating the primary themes and making the reader ask questions of himself. This rhetorical concept is not present in The Lamb. While the poet does use questions once or twice, it is not a major focus of the work, and thus, it is not a defining characteristic of the poem.
The Lamb focuses on a much more religious theme. The lamb that is referenced in this poem is a symbol of Christianity, so this work takes much of its motivation from religious influences. This is supported by actual, direct references to God within the poem, which bolsters the symbolic concepts communicated in this work. The Tyger, on the other hand, could be said to make allusions to religion only in an indirect way. It does reference a maker, and there is some focus on the purpose of creation, but there is not the immediate reference to Christianity. The Tyger is a more general take on religion, if one wants to say that it is about religion at all.
Ultimately, these poems are very similar in some ways and very different in other ways. Both in terms of content and in terms of form, these works show the many different styles of William Blake in communicating his desired message.