The Lamb - William Blake

The Lamb 

by William Blake (1757-1827)

    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!


    The poem, perhaps the most well-known from his Songs of Innocence, is childlike in nearly every way.  A child would likely understand every word here - no arcane or obscure references - only the simple question of a child to a lamb, and a poem built upon the simple pattern of rhyming couplets.  The lamb addressed is a sheep's child.  The voice of the poem is that of a human child.  The answer, which comes like the answer to a catechism question, points to the child of God who was also the "lamb of God."

    These days many of us are given more time to wonder.  That is, to consider things of import and to do so in a posture of open expectation that we might be surprised to discover something new.  We might see this as an invitation to return to the posture of childlike wonder at the beauty and goodness of creation;  something as simple as a lamb, leading us to ponder the blessings of God.

    The thing about wonderment is that it is not productive or useful, at least not in the way the world would calculate those things.  To wonder might lead you to be lost inside a children's poem for an hour (or more!) marveling at how the sing-song couplets suggest things as deep and important as:

† The Trinity (notice how the child, the lamb, and the Lamb of God form a community of three)
† The Lamb as symbol both of God's sacrifice, and God's innocence, and God's work to take away the sins of the world and give peace  (Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis)

    There are other things to notice . . . but I will leave them for you to wonder about.  It is enough for me to be reminded that, even in these difficult times, the fundamentals have not changed.  I am still a creature, made in the image of my creator.  My life can be lived fully simply by being what God has made me to be, I can graze by the stream, grow my wool, and fill the world with the joy of my gentle bleating.  Simple tasks, given to a simple animal, but ones that make "all the vales rejoice."

Paul Lang