Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lamb

(The Lamb, written and illustrated by
William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet,
painter, engraver, and mystic visionary)

Up to now, each of the poems and images this month has involved two artists, a poet and a painter. Today’s poem, however, is an example of ekphrasis in which the writer is also the creator of the image.

William Blake was a poet and engraver who produced his own collections of poems with complementary illustrations that he engraved and then watercolored by hand.

“The Lamb” belongs to
Songs of Innocence, the first of two books “shewing the two contrary states of the human soul.”

With his rhetorical questions, the poet suggests that the gentle character of the lamb reflects the nature of its Creator, and we too, as God’s children, share that quality. The words and imagery echo the Christian tradition of Christ, God made man, the Lamb of God.


Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb.
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!


Anonymous said...

Very nice. Is this available in a little childrens book?

MARIA said...

You can find many editions of the collected poems of Blake, some in facsimile illustrated versions, but none for children, as far as I know.

There is one delightful book of poems ABOUT Blake, introducing children aged 10 to 12 or so to the world of Blake -- A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, by Nancy Willard. It is available in the Children's Room at the George Hail Library.

One note: if you click on the above illustration you can get a larger printable image.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Maria. My son is a regular the G.H. Library. I'll have a look around.