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The concept of otherness is definitely a tool used by authors and poets, and to further shed light on this phenomenon, the essay will talk about it in the context of the poems: ‘The lamb’ by William Blake and ‘How do I love thee’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
In the first poem by William Blake titled the Lamb, the poet, as the name suggest, is generally just talking about lambs and how beautiful they are. The nature of the speaker is ambiguous, but from what can be gathered from various terminologies and allusions used in the poem, along with the innocence with which the questions are being asked in the first stanza, it can be concluded that the speaker of the poem is a child. The child is curious and asks the lamb where he came from and who made him? The speaker talks to the lamb as if they can understand him and often personifies them by telling them that they have a ‘voice’ (Blake, line 7). The personification makes even more sense, once in the remaining parts of the poem, the lambs are meant to be symbolic of Jesus Christ, who is pure and the epitome of innocent as per Christian theology.
The poem was published in the year 1789, a time during which people were fairly orthodox and conservative regarding religious matters and commentary on God. William Blake’s otherness in the poem shows that he asks the questions from the eyes of a young speaker, who is not old enough to adhere by the set code of society. Therefore, he questions the lamb about who made them, what gives them food and what made them to have soft wool. As an adult, it does not make sense for anybody to ask that questions, but from a young child’s perspective, all questions are forgiven. In the end however, Blake incorporates an agenda-setting role in his poem by using the concept of otherness, which is that the young speaker in the possesses the knowledge of who made them and therefore reinforces the cardinal beliefs of
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