The poem “The Tyger” is included in Songs of Experience. It is closely related to a poem from the Songs of Innocence titled “The Lamb.” The lamb and the tiger could be interpreted as two different aspects of Christ. As previously stated, Blake gives Jesus a human/humane dimension, and thus when he is compared to a lamb or a tiger, it means that he has acquired those qualities that characterise them. He can be as gentle as a lamb or as ferocious and wrathful as a tiger. Keeping these two images of Christ in mind, we will now attempt to provide an explanation to the poem that will help us understand their relevance to Blake’s entire poetic argument.
The opening question enacts the poem’s single dramatic gesture, and each subsequent stanza expands on this concept. Blake is expanding on the conventional notion that nature, like a work of art, must contain a reflection of its creator. The tiger is both stunningly beautiful and terrifyingly violent. What kind of God, then, could or would create such a terrifying beast as the tiger? In a broader sense, what does the undeniable presence of evil and violence in the world tell us about the nature of God, and what does it mean to live in a world where a being can contain both beauty and horror?
The tiger first appears as a strikingly sensual image. However, as the poem progresses, it takes on a symbolic character and comes to embody the spiritual and moral problem that the poem explores: perfectly beautiful and yet perfectly destructive, Blake’s tiger becomes the symbolic centre for an investigation into the presence of evil in the world. Because the tiger’s remarkable nature exists in both physical and moral terms, the speaker’s questions about its origin must also include both physical and moral dimensions. The poem’s series of questions repeatedly ask what kind of physical creative capacity the “fearful symmetry” of the tiger represents; it is assumed that only a very strong and powerful being could be capable of such a creation.
The smithy is a traditional image of artistic creation; here, Blake applies it to the divine creation of the natural world. The tiger’s “forging” suggests a very physical, laborious, and deliberate kind of making; it emphasises the tiger’s awesome physical presence and precludes the idea that such a creation could have been produced in any way accidentally or haphazardly. It also continues the imagery of fire from the first description of the tiger, with its simultaneous connotations of creation, purification, and destruction. The speaker is in awe of the tiger as a sheer physical and aesthetic achievement, even as he recoils in horror at the moral implications of such a creation; for the poem addresses not only the question of who could create such a creature as the tiger, but also who would perform this act. This is a question of creative responsibility and will, and the poet carefully integrates this moral question with the consideration of physical power. In the third stanza, notice the parallelism of “shoulder” and “art,” as well as the fact that the tiger’s “heart” is being forged, not just its body. The repeated use of the word “dare” to replace the word “could” in the first stanza introduces a dimension of aspiration and willfulness into the sheer might of the creative act.
The reference to the lamb in the penultimate stanza reminds the reader that a tiger and a lamb were created by the same God, raising questions about the implications of this. It also invites a comparison of the perspectives of “experience” and “innocence” represented here and in the poem “The Lamb.” “The Tyger” is entirely comprised of unanswered questions, and the poet leaves us in awe of the complexity of creation, the sheer magnitude of God’s power, and the inscrutability of divine will.
This poem’s point of view on experience involves a sophisticated acknowledgement of what is unexplainable in the universe, presenting evil as the prime example of something that cannot be denied but also will not withstand simple explanation. The open awe of “The Tyger” contrasts with the carefree confidence of a child’s innocent faith in a benevolent universe in “The Lamb,”
The speaker begins the poem by asking a ferocious tiger what kind of divine being could have created it: “What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame they fearful symmetry?” Each subsequent stanza contains additional questions, all of which help to refine the first. Where could the tiger’s fiery eyes have come from, and who would have dared to handle that fire? What kind of physical presence and dark craftsmanship would be required to “twist the sinews” of the tiger’s heart? The speaker wonders how that horrible heart’s creator would have had the courage to continue the job once it “began to beat,” Comparing the creator to a blacksmith, he muses on the anvil and furnace required for the project, as well as the smith who could have wielded them. And when the job was finished, the speaker wonders how the creator would have felt. “Did he smile his work to see?” Could this be the same being who created the lamb? “The Tyger” has only six stanzas, each of which is four lines long. The first and last stanzas are identical, with the exception of one word change: “could” becomes “dare.” “The Tyger” is a poem composed entirely of questions. There are thirteen question marks and only one complete sentence that ends with a period rather than a question mark. Addressing “The Tyger,” the speaker inquires about its origins – essentially, “Who made you Mr. Tyger?” “How were you made? Where? Why? What was the person or thing like that made you?” The poem is frequently interpreted to address issues of inspiration, poetry, mystical knowledge, God, and the sublime (large, mysterious, powerful, and sometimes frightening). Have you ever heard the expression “To love God is to fear him”? That is something sublime to say). But it is not about anything in particular: this is William Blake.
For better or worse, “The Tyger” has no narrative movement: nobody does anything other than the speaker questioning “the Tyger.” The central question is raised in the first stanza: “What immortal hand or eye, / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” The second stanza asks “the Tyger” where he was created, the third how the creator formed him, and the fourth what tools were used to create him. The fifth stanza then inquires as to how the creator reacted to his creation (“the Tyger”) and who this creator was. Finally, the sixth question restates the central question while raising the stakes; rather than asking what/who could create the Tyger, the speaker wonders: who dares?
Analysis of The Tyger
Blake wrote “The Tyger” during his more radical period and included it in a collection of poems called Songs of Experience in 1794. He wrote the majority of his major works during this time period, frequently railing against oppressive institutions such as the church or monarchy, as well as against any and all cultural traditions – sexist, racist, or classist – that stifled imagination or passion. Blake had previously published a collection of poetry titled Songs of Innocence in 1789. After the release of Songs of Experience five years later, the two were always published concurrently.
Songs of Innocence is primarily composed of idyllic poems, many of which deal with childhood and innocence.
Idyllic poems have a few distinct characteristics: they are typically optimistic, occasionally extremely happy or optimistic and innocent. Additionally, they frequently take place in pastoral settings (think countryside; springtime; harmless, adorable wildlife; sunsets; babbling brooks; wandering bards; and fair maidens) and frequently praise one or more of these things as subjects.
On the other hand, the poems in Songs of Experience grapple with the question of what happens when that innocence is lost. The poem “The Tyger” from Songs of Innocence is frequently paired with “The Lamb” The former alludes to the latter and reexamines “The Lamb” themes through the prism of experience. “The Lamb” is one of those idyllic poems that asks the Lamb who created “thee” (similar to “The Tyger”), praises how soft and adorable it is, and then informs it that God created it and how wonderful that is. Blake’s tone is almost ironic (i.e., he actually means something very different than what he seems to be saying). Numerous scholars have argued precisely that, particularly in light of his poems about the dangers of religious dogma.
Blake’s most-read poem, without a doubt, is “The Tyger.” It is easier to read than a lot of his other work, but it is far from easy. Even though the themes and meaning are about as enigmatic or difficult as you can get, they are not obscured to the point of being unintelligible.
Blake’s ability to elicit excitement in a large number of extremely intelligent people, as well as ordinary people like us, is quite compelling. He casts doubt on everything, including religion, politics, poetry, history, science, and philosophy. He criticises established order, legal and regulatory systems, and those who believe they have it all figured out. Nobody escapes his critical eye, not even angels, gods, God, kings, priests, or you, the reader.
Blake is awesome in any case, and “The Tyger” serves as an excellent introduction to the rest of his work. His poetry is reminiscent of Michael Moore mingling with Emily Dickinson. He is timely, occasionally harsh, and occasionally clever. He also possesses a brilliant poetic mind and the visionary’s eye, which sees the world in ways that we can only imagine. Not to mention that “The Tyger” is brief and does not necessitate an understanding of Blake’s personal mythology.
The Tyger’s symbol is one of the poem’s two central mysteries (the other being the Tyger’s creator). Although it is unclear what it represents precisely, scholars have speculated that the Tyger may represent inspiration, the divine, artistic creation, history, and the sublime (the great, mysterious, powerful, and occasionally frightening). (For more information on this, see the section “Themes and Quotes”), or vision itself. Indeed, the list is nearly infinite. The point is that the Tyger is significant, and Blake’s poem only scratches the surface of the possibilities.
Stanza 4: These tools serve as an extended metaphor for the creator and his creation of the Tyger in the poem. These tools are used by blacksmiths to create objects out of extremely hot metal. The term “forge” – to create or shape – is a smith term that also refers to a smith’s furnace. The smith reference also connects to all the fire imagery associated with the Tyger, amplifying the Tyger’s creation’s energy and danger. If you believe that forging metal is not dangerous or hot, you may wish to visit a modern steel mill.
In “The Tyger.” religion is inescapable. In Blake’s day, religious individuals and institutions wielded far more influence over the populace than they do today in Europe. Contesting God’s absolute supremacy was extremely rare and almost always resulted in political suicide. Blake, on the other hand, has no qualms about challenging God or dabbling in religious realms that do not automatically assume the Christian God is alpha and omega (“the beginning and the end” of the Greek alphabet). Thus, Blake poses the question of who “could” create the Tyger, casting doubt on the omnipotence of such a being (all-powerful). Additionally, he challenges whoever “dares” to forge the Tyger and contain (“frame”) its “fearful symmetry.” Blake is not afraid of religious visions, as evidenced by the abundance of them in this poem, but he is not interested in rehashing Christian doctrine. Rather than that, he interacts with Christianity by challenging its underlying assumptions.
Line 20: Always consider the lamb as a symbol of Jesus Christ when you read the word “lamb” (“the Lamb of God”). According to tradition, God or gods in general sacrificed animals such as lambs until God offered his Son, Jesus Christ – his lamb – as the final sacrifice for mankind’s sins. Blake refers to a version of Christianity in line 20 that states that God created Jesus (Protestant version vs. the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity). In any case, you do not need to understand all of the theology; all you need to know is that it refers to Jesus and is an allusion to Christianity. Blake inquires as to whether the same God who created Jesus also created the Tyger. Additionally, keep in mind that “The Lamb” is the title of another Blake poem from the Songs of Innocence; the two poems are frequently read in conjunction.
As an extended metaphor, fire serves multiple purposes. To begin, it is frequently associated with the Tyger, which adds to the Tyger’s ferocity and sublimity (due to its size, strength, and mystery). Fire is also an energy source, and given that the Tyger appears to be filled with fire, he must also be filled with energy. In another sense, the smith’s furnace fire is the fire of creation, the catalyst for the formation of the Tyger.
Synecdoche is used to refer to the body parts mentioned in this poem – hands, eyes, shoulders, and feet.
When a portion of something is used to refer to the entire thing, this is called a synecdoche. For instance, when someone yells “All hands on deck!” he does not mean that he wants a bunch of severed hands on the deck; rather, he wants the people and their hands to assist with the ship’s construction. Thus, the term “immortal hand” refers to the entire being or person to which the hand belongs, while also emphasising the hands as a means of creation. The eye serves as a symbol for the entire body and person, but also serves to focus (ha ha) our attention on the faculty of sight.
Additionally, by including only fragments of the creator in the poem, Blake adds to the mystery of who or what he is. It is as if you only have a few extreme close-ups of a person: you can see their hands, shoulders, feet, and eyes, but not the entire package, which means you can not tell who you are looking at. The creator uses his wings to “aspire” to the creation of the Tyger. They are, in essence, the strength or inspiration that enables the creator to “dare” to embark on the task of creating the Tyger.