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The Lamb was Bleating Softly (lit essay)

Posted on February 9, 2013 at 9:10 AM

The Lamb was Bleating Softly (Juan Ramon Jimenez) conveys the arrival of an extraordinary (perhaps divine) presence into a rural landscape. The poem opens with the farm animals being stirred awake by “His” appearance. They are excited, and this anticipation is communicated aurally, as the narrator him/herself is roused by the commotion. The fact that the animals sense His coming first may suggest a communion with nature that is simply weaker in humans. The opening lines may also be part of a dream, since it is not until line six that the narrator’s consciousness is even established. Then again, just because it was dreamed, doesn’t make it any less powerful.

Who He is, is never made explicit, but His greatness is transformed into sensory perception, through the stirring of the animals, the colours of the sky, and the intoxication of the narrator. The anticipation of the animals and the narrator, combined with the adoring descriptions of the sunrise, illustrate how this divine presence has transformed the flora and fauna into something bright and beautiful, and brimming with excitement. The world falls into a rare harmony that only something sublime or transcendent could inspire.

One possible explanation is that the poem is a retelling of the birth of Christ. The moon is described as “a full and divine womb” (Mary perhaps) descending. The fact that it falls on the west, may even symbolise the expansion of Christianity into Europe. The rural setting, the stable, and the farm animals all summon up the imagery of Jesus’s birth, and of course, the lamb itself, which is synonymous with Christ, and the children of God. Another explanation is that the arriving figure is the narrator’s husband, having returned home from war, or some murky fate. The animals all recognise his scent, and grow excited, and the wife, sensing his imminent return, becomes drunk with joy, and rushes to greet him. In either case, the tone of the poem is a glorious transformation of nature and feeling; the night has passed, and a new has dawn broken.



Categories: ESSAYS, Literature

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