How sweet is the Shepherd’s sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he strays:
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
For he hears the lamb’s innocent call,
And he hears the ewe’s tender reply:
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.
The poem is mainly about a Shepherd who enjoys an enviable lot because he roams from morning to evening all along the valleys. Besides, his tongue is employed in singing songs in praise of God. He feels happy and peaceful in the mind as he is always among his sheep who let out innocent calls. He guards them while they are grazing peacefully. The flock of sheep sense the proximity of the shepherd and feel safe and sound.
Critical analysis of ‘The Shepherd’:
‘The Shepherd’ is a part of William Blake’s poetry collection “Song of Innocence”. In the first line of the poem, ‘Shepherd’ begins with a capital letter. Rather more than the lovely scenery of a landscape with a few sheep and a shepherd, it has a deeper symbolic meaning. The Shepherd stands for God or Christ and the sheep represent human beings. Human beings are happy under the protection or blessings of God.
Religious Significance :
Something which is noteworthy in the poem lies in the third and the fourth lines. All the other lines are in present tenses whereas the third and fourth are in the future tense. This may hint at the fact that the Shepherd, as he does in the present world, ‘shall’ follow his flock and sing halleluiahs in the other world also. More than referring to Christ ‘the Shepherd’ may also refer to man whose charity and broad heartedness is the core and kernel of all religions, as well as that of Christianity. Thus we see that Blake is more practical than theoretical with regard to his dogma or maxim of religion.