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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

FOR A LAMB, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"For a Lamb" is a poem by American poet Richard Ghormley Eberhart. It was first published in 1940 and is a reflection on the themes of innocence, vulnerability, and sacrifice.


The poem tells the story of a lamb that the speaker encounters in a meadow, and the way that the lamb's purity and gentleness evoke a sense of wonder and reverence in the speaker. As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on the idea of sacrifice, and imagines the lamb as a symbol of spiritual redemption.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: "For a Lamb" is a poem written in free verse, meaning that it does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or meter. This allows the poet to experiment with line length and structure, and to create a more natural, conversational tone.
  • Imagery: The poem is filled with vivid and evocative imagery, such as the "softness" and "whiteness" of the lamb's wool and the "liquid light" that seems to surround it.
  • Metaphor: The lamb becomes a metaphor for the idea of sacrifice and spiritual renewal, as the speaker imagines the lamb's blood as a symbol of redemption.
  • Allusion: The poem makes subtle allusions to Christian themes, such as the idea of sacrifice and redemption.


Overall, "For a Lamb" is a powerful and moving poem that uses vivid imagery, metaphor, and allusion to explore the themes of innocence, sacrifice, and redemption. The use of free verse allows the poem to create a more natural and conversational tone, while the subtle allusions to Christian themes add depth and meaning to the poem. Through its contemplation of the lamb's gentleness and vulnerability, the poem invites the reader to reflect on the deeper meanings of life and death, and to consider the ways in which our own sacrifices can lead to spiritual renewal and redemption.

Poem Snippet:

"And then, when I thought of Jesus,

it seemed that he loved creatures like this

and their innocence,

and I loved him."

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