The Tyger by William Blake
“The Tyger” is a poem taken from William Blake’s Songs of Experience. The poem is organized in the form of a series of rhetorical questions regarding the main character, the tiger, itself. Here, the poet is equally amazed and intimidated by the presence of the creature, which he constantly compares to the domestic lamb.
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Analysis of Blake’s “The Tyger”
The entire poem has been arranged in the manner of a string of questions, all striving to justify the wonderment of the speaker, who is perplexed at such a creation as the tiger who is able to bring out in people both admiration and fear at the same time. William Blake is lenient with the use of visuals as a literary device in order to put emphasis on the tiger’s fiery essence. Indeed the first line of the poem serves as an ideal example, “Tyger Tyger, burning bright,”
Although initially the speaker is more concerned about the physical presence of the tiger, by the third and fourth stanza, the poem has progressed to the creator itself, rather than the creation. Who could have made such a creation and moreover, who would perform such an act? The poem now discusses the moral implications of giving life to such a creature, which admittedly sensuous, has the ability to bring about massive destruction if let loose.
A comparison made constantly throughout the whole plot is the tiger’s to that of the lamb from another one of Blake’s poems from his collection, Songs of Innocence. While the latter is a sweet docile animal and symbolizes the naivety of a child who has yet not been polluted by the ill thoughts of this world, the tiger is a refection of the uncased passion that lies within all of us, a passion that can either bring an end to us or be the life of us. Here, William Blake attempts to make us realize that while we may require qualities like loyalty and humility in our lives to keep us more settled to the earth, we also need the fire of our unbridled passion to free ourselves from the falsities of life.