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The Tyger belongs to Songs of Experience which was written by William Blake.

The Romantic poet published his collection of poems himself in London, in 1794[1]. The poet came up with a technique called relief etching[2] to be able to add his illustrations. The poem contains six quatrains; and its rhyme is assonant, and follows perfectly the pattern aabb due to, in the case of the first and the sixth stanzas, the word symmetry is pronounced in such a way that it rhymes with eye[3]. With regard to the semantic fields, there are words related to the tools used by an ironsmith like, for instance, hammer, chain, furnace, and anvil, in the fourth stanza. Also, we can find a semantic field related to Nature like, for example, forests (line 2), skies (line 5), Tyger (lines 1 and 21), and Lamb (line 20). But, above all, the poet used a semantic field related to Creation when he writes words or phases like: What immortal hand and eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? The simple structure and the vocabulary help the reader to understand the main topics or concepts, which are Evil, Good, and God.

The first impression that William Blake gives is that he sees a terrible tiger in the night, and, as a result of his state of panic, the poet exaggerates the description of the animal when he writes: Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright In the forests of the night However, paying more attention to what comes next, the author talks about Evil, and Good, as I said above. These two essential ideas are symbolised in the Tyger and the Lamb, respectively (notice that both words have capital letters). Immediately after seeing the Tyger in the forests, the poet asks it what deity could have created it: What immortal hand and eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? The word immortal gives the reader a clue that the poet refers to God. Then, in the second stanza, the author wonders in what far-away places the tiger was made, maybe, referring that these places cannot be reached by any mortal. In the third stanza, the poet asks again, once the tigers heart began to beat, who could make such a frightening and evil animal. Next, in the forth stanza, William Blake asks questions about the tools used by God. And he names the hammer, the chain, the furnace, and

anvil. All these elements are used by an ironsmith. Thus, according to the poet, God is a kind of craftsman. After that, in the fifth stanza, the poet asks two significant questions. The first one refers to Gods feelings: Did he smile his work to see? In other words, was God happy with his creation? The second question is: Did he who made the Lamb make thee? William Blake does not understand why or how the deity who is responsible for good and innocence, is, at he same time, the same who inserts violence and evil in this world. However, the poet does not make any statement at any moment. He only asks questions which invite the reader to think about. Finally, the last stanza is the same as the first one which may indicate that the author is not able to understand the world where we live. To conclude, in my opinion, William Blake wrote the poem with a simple structure and a perfect rhyme to help the reader see the images he wanted to transmit. Above all, the description of the tiger is glaringly graphic due to essentially the contrast between fire and night.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In the first verse, the author compares the fierceness of a tiger to a burning presence in dark forests. He wonders what immortal power could create such a fearful beast. In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare sieze the fire? Here the author compares the burning eyes of the tiger to some transplanted distant fire that only someone with wings could reach and only with impermeable hands could seize. The author wonders where such a powerful fire could have come from? Hell, possibly? 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? In this verse we have a metaphor giving us a vision a skillful and powerful blacksmith creating the tiger's beating heart awakening a powerful beast. The phrase "...twist the sinews of thy heart" is also an allusion to a hardheartedness that a beast of prey must have towards the creatures it kills. What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

This verse continues the allusion to a creator, who, having made the fearsome baest, must confront with the sheer terror of a tiger's nature. Did the tiger's creator have to retrieve the tiger's fearsome brain from an evil, hot place? When the stars threw down their spears, And watered heaven with their tears, Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee? Here the author, with beautiful rhetoric, describes a marvelous creation process likening starlight to a symbolic destructive process. The author wonders whether the creator of the fierce and predatory tiger could also make the docile, gentle lamb. He sees a conflict between the creation of heartless, burning predator and its potential victim, the lamb. The "lamb" allusion could also be Christ, who is referred to the "Lamb of God," which lends a spiritual connotation: Did God, who made brought his Son into the world also the predatory tiger? Is the tiger a symbol of Satan? Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? The final verse is but a reprise, almost a chorus. It serves the purpose of repeating the wondrous question of the tiger's creation and gives the reader another chance to enjoy the rhetorical, and already answered question, "What immortal hand or eye?" The answer lies in the reader's interpretation of creation: Did God create the fearsome along with the gentle, his Son along with the evil of Satan? Why does He allow the tiger to burn in the dark forest, while the lamb gambols in the glen under the stars of that very creation? Why did he allow his Son to succumb to the evil of the crucifixion while at the same time allowing him to be the light of mankind? The author leaves it up to the reader to decide. The important thing is the question, not the answer.

Poetry analysis: The Tyger, by William Blake

Numerous experts have attempted to explain William Blake's The Tyger and the powerful effect of those 24 lines on the reader's emotions and imagination. It seems presumptuous to add anything new to the volume. However, no two people's reactions to a poem with such evocative power will be identical. The words obviously do not change, but a person's response to them will alter with his or her age and accrual of experience. Before beginning, a few unarguable details about where the poem fits into Blake's total works bear recounting. Songs of Innocence appeared in 1789. Five years later Blake published a second volume which included the one just mentioned - a volume titled Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. Contrary to popular belief, Blake never published Songs of Experience as a separate volume, indicating that he intended the poems to be viewed as diptychs, although not every Song of Innocence has a counterpart in the later publication. It is clear, since the Lamb is mentioned in the Tyger, that these two poems are intended to be paired and compared. No more stark contrast can be imagined than that of the fearsome Tyger and the gentle Lamb. (N.B. when referring to Blake's imaginary feline, I will use the archaic spelling tyger. When remarking in general about such an animal, I will use the modern spelling. Many modern collections update Blake's spelling. However, I have always felt that the older spelling in stanza one is a reminder that the "y" in the concluding word "symmetry" is pronounced as a long "i" in order to rhyme perfectly with the preceding line's "eye.") In the poem under consideration, an adult speaker possibly the poet apostrophizes a beast seen in his lively imagination. There are no tigers or tygers in England. He doesn't try to strike up a conversation with a creature that he knows cannot respond. His address consists of a series of rhetorical questions about the Divinity or other immortal being who could create the Tyger and if that power is also the creator of the Lamb. He expects no answers and receives none. The poem strikes chords on a preconscious level and affects readers with a reaction more visceral than intellectual. The exclamation points in line 1 indicate the awe and wonder associated with a beast of prey, the contemplation of which engenders equal parts of terror and beauty. No one can take literally the descriptive "burning bright." Animals do not burn even though one of the two colors associated with tigers is also the color of flame. "Jungles" might be more appropriate than "forests" to describe the Bengal tiger's habitat, but such a quibble would be erring on the side of logic and geography as would saying that the sun shines where tigers prowl just as it does in our ordinary lives. The forests of the night are symbolic of the mysterious and unknowable. In line 6 that complex of associations stirred by the opening line shifts from the orange and black striping of the animal's body and fixes on the eyes of the creature. The speaker's second question asks, "In what distant deeps or skies/Burnt the fire of thine eyes." We don't ask what "deeps" are

referred to. We accept the alliterative "distant deeps" as we did the earlier "burning bright" more for their contribution to tone than for precise denotation. Our focus and that of the speaker is on the fearsome nature and magnificence of the indomitable creature who has no predator but simultaneously on its creator. "What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" The body parts mentioned are anthropomorphisms and synecdoches allowing us to imagine an immortal (thus superhuman) artisan. The verb "frame" suggests the ability of the otherworldly being not just to shape such fearful symmetry but also to encompass and delimit it. Images of heat and flame expand as the blacksmith language of "hammer," "chain" "furnace" and "anvil" appears in stanzas 3 and 4 and the poem's pounding trochaic rhythm seem like that hammer ringing on that anvil. But is the smith God or Satan? Did the artistic conception originate in the distant deeps of Hell or the skies of Heaven? Whose inconceivably powerful shoulder could "twist the sinews of thy heart?"And whoever the dread artist was, did he "smile" in satisfaction with what he had wrought? The penultimate stanza may begin with an allusion to Milton's Paradise Lost and the conflict of rebel angels and good angels. Other critics reject that notion and frame "When the stars threw down their spears,/ And watered heaven with their tears" as various conceptions of dew fall, love, pity, the blacksmith's use of water to cool and temper the heated object upon which he has been hammering and sending out showers of spear-like sparks. Was that smile God's approval of the conclusion of the war in heaven? There is no consensus of opinion. As with all the other questions in the poem, no answer is given. Is it logical that the creator of the lamb could be also the artificer of the tiger? Could the same being create the music of the spheres, the glories of rainbow and sunrise as well as the destruction of earthquakes, plague and pestilence? Again, the question is unanswerable. The universe is what it is, (note that the interrogative "what" appears 13 times in the poem) and the same can be said of our world, its denizens, and the coexistence of good and evil. One of Blake's often quoted lines - "Without contraries there can be no progression" - seems to underlie Blake's dualism. The idea of oppositions is clear in his titles such as Songs of Innocence and Experience and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Being neither a religious philosopher nor an advanced student of Blake's mysticism and his challenges to deism and orthodox Christianity, I am forced to use simple layman's terms. Without sorrow we would be incapable of knowing joy, without pain we would not appreciate ease and comfort. Blake's last stanza repeats stanza 1 except for a key change in the verb phrases of the concluding lines. Stanza 1's simple "could frame thy fearful symmetry" becomes "dare frame they fearful symmetry." We read right over the non-connotative "could" in the poem's beginning but "dare from" with its hovering accent is emotionally arresting. The final question asks if an immortal creator would dare to create on earth and in the soul of mankind a tyger symbolizing the fear and hate without which there would not exist the contraries of trust and love.

The Tyger: Rhyme, Form & Meter

Well show you the poems blueprints, and well listen for the music behind the words.

The stuffy way of talking about form and meter in "The Tyger" is to say it's written in six quatrains of rhyming couplets with a pulsing, steady, mostly-trochaic rhythm. OK, now is the time to ask, "What the heck does that mean?" Let's start from the beginning. A quatrain is a stanza with four lines. Rhyming couplets are pairs of lines, the last words of which rhyme. We know what you're thinking: in the first and last stanzas, "eye" doesn't rhyme with "symmetry." However, they do rhyme if you pronounce "symmetry" in an old-fashioned way, as "simm-a-try" (as in "Im gonna try"). So two lines make a couplet, and two couplets make a quatrain or stanza. Lastly, six stanzas make a poem its neat, clean, and simple. The "trochaic" refers to the "trochee," of one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed one (DUM-da, DUM-da, etc.). "The Tyger" isn't all trochaic, because there are several exceptions, but the general rhythmic march when you read it out loud is quintessentially trochaic. "The Tyger" is an example of a clear and definable form. Good luck finding anything similar in Blakes other work beyond the Songs, its really just not his style. He generally prefers long, prose-like lines with seemingly random punctuation. To illustrate what we mean, check out this particularly dramatic section from Blakes poem America: As human blood shooting its veins all round the orbed heaven Red rose the clouds from the Atlantic in vast wheels of blood And in the red clouds rose a Wonder oer the Atlantic sea; Intense! Naked! A Human fire fierce glowing, as the wedge of iron heated in the furnace; his terrible limbs were fire With myriads of cloudy terrors banners dark & towers Surrounded; heat but not light went thro the murky atmosphere And so on. So, incredible imagery, almost bonkers visions, stuff that makes you say "what the heck?" yet urges you to read more. But there's definitely no rhyme, no meter, no clear stanzas, no repetition, not even proper punctuation. This is Blake at his other extreme.

Type of Work and Year of Publication

"The Tiger," originally called "The Tyger," is a lyric poem focusing on the nature of God and his creations. It was published in 1794 in a collection entitled Songs of Experience. Modern anthologies often print "The Tiger" alongside an earlier Blake poem, "The Lamb," published in 1789 in a collection entitled Songs of Innocence.

The poem is in trochaic tetrameter with catalexis at the end of each line. Here is an explanation of these technical terms:

Tetrameter Line: a poetry line usually with eight syllables. Trochaic Foot: A pair of syllables--a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. Catalexis: The absence of a syllable in the final foot in a line. In Blakes poem, an unstressed syllable is absent in the last
foot of each line. Thus, every line has seven syllables, not the conventional eight. The following illustration using the first two lines of the poem demonstrates tetrameter with four trochaic feet, the last one catalectic:

.....1...........2...............3..................4 TIger,..|..TIger,..|..BURN ing..|..BRIGHT .....1..............2...............3...............4 IN the..|..FOR ests..|..OF the..|..NIGHT

Notice that the fourth foot in each line eliminates the conventional unstressed syllable (catalexis). However, this irregularity in the trochaic pattern does not harm the rhythm of the poem. In fact, it may actually enhance it, allowing each line to end with an accented syllable that seems to mimic the beat of the makers hammer on the anvil. For a detailed discussion of meter and the various types of feet, click here.

Structure and Rhyme Scheme

The poem consists of six quatrains. (A quatrain is a four-line stanza.) Each quatrain contains two couplets. (A couplet is a pair of rhyming lines). Thus we have a twenty-four-line poem with twelve couplets and six stanzas a neat, balanced package. The question in the final stanza repeats (except for one word, dare) the wording of the first stanza, perhaps suggesting that the question Blake raises will continue to perplex thinkers ad infinitum.

Examples Figures of Speech and Allusions

Alliteration: Tiger, tiger, burning bright (line 1); frame thy fearful symmetry? (line 4) Metaphor: Comparison of the tiger and his eyes to fire. Anaphora: Repetition of what at the beginning of sentences or clauses. Example: What dread hand and what dread feet? / What the hammer? what the chain? Allusion: Immortal hand or eye: God or Satan Allusion: Distant deeps or skies: hell or heaven


The Tiger: Evil (or Satan) The Lamb: Goodness (or God)

Distant Deeps: Hell Skies: Heaven

The Existence of Evil

The Tiger presents a question that embodies the central theme: Who created the tiger? Was it the kind and loving God who made the lamb? Or was it Satan? Blake presents his question in lines 3 and 4:
What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? Blake realizes, of course, that God made all the creatures on earth. However, to express his bewilderment that the God who created the gentle lamb also created the terrifying tiger, he includes Satan as a possible creator while raising his rhetorical questions, notably the one he asks in lines 5 and 6: In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thy eyes?

Deeps appears to refer to hell and skies to heaven. In either case, there would be fire--the fire of hell or the fire of the stars. Of course, there can be no gainsaying that the tiger symbolizes evil, or the incarnation of evil, and that the lamb (Line 20) represents goodness, or Christ. Blake's inquiry is a variation on an old philosophical and theological question: Why does evil exist in a universe created and ruled by a benevolent God? Blake provides no answer. His mission is to
reflect reality in arresting images. A poet s first purpose, after all, is to present the world and its denizens in language that stimulates the aesthetic sense; he is not to exhort or moralize. Nevertheless, the poem does stir the reader to deep thought. Here is the tiger, fierce and brutal in its quest for sustenance; there is the lamb, meek and gentle in its quest for survival. Is it possible that the same God who made the lamb also made the tiger? Or was the tiger the devil's work? The Awe and Mystery of Creation and the Creator The poem is more about the creator of the tiger than it is about the tiger intself. In contemplating the terrible ferocity and awesome symmetry of the tiger, the speaker is at a loss to explain how the same God who made the lamb could make the tiger. Hence, this theme: humans are incapable of fully understanding the mind of God and the mystery of his handiwork.