The Tiger and the Deer’ by Sri Aurobindo

The poem ‘The Tiger and the Deer’ is one of Sri Aurobindo’s finest works of Indian English poetry. Aurobindo is widely regarded as India’s preeminent maestro of English literature. He was a philosopher, short story writer, dramatist, liberation warrior, and spiritual leader in addition to being a poet. ‘Savitri’ is the epic that epitomises his poetic career. He became involved in the Indian independence struggle in order to liberate his native land from British rule and afterwards turned to spirituality. The short didactic poem ‘Tiger and the deer’ was composed in 1930 and rewritten in 1942.

The poem depicts the law of the forest, in which a weak animal such as a deer gets slain by a mighty dangerous wild animal such as a tiger. The poem opens with a description of the tiger approaching the innocent deer, cowering and slouching. The deer travels to the deep forest’s large pool to quench his thirst with chilly water. It is completely unaware of the tiger’s attack strategy. The poet describes the tiger’s fearsome aspect, writing that the sparkling eyes, strong chest, and quiet soundless paws may frighten anyone. The tiger crouches cautiously to attack and dismember the deer. The deer dies pitifully, alone in the forest, remembering its mate.

The poet explains that nature’s benign, innocuous beauty is shattered by its harsh beauty. The poet concludes the poem on an optimistic tone. He shares his belief that individuals who cause harm to others will be annihilated, just as the mammoth previously ruled Asia but is now extinct. Similarly, like the mammoth, the tiger and other dangerous animals will perish. However, the deer would then drink freely from the cool ponds found throughout the dense woodland. Thus, the poet emphasises his desire for a tranquil and innocent planet in the poem’s concluding lines.

The poem is dense with allusions to symbolism. The poet expresses his spiritual beliefs here and draws a contrast between good and evil, innocence and experience, and life and death. The tiger represents death, darkness, and hubris, while the deer represents innocence, gentleness, and love in the poetry. The tiger’s slaughter of the innocent deer represents the demise and annihilation of healthy life values in western civilization’s materialistic culture. Alliterative language is utilised by the poet. Although the poem is about blood and murder, the wording is not garbled. The poet seemed to be expressing his spiritual conviction that, despite several trials and tribulations, life is a gift to be savoured. The phrase ‘coolness of large pools in the leaves’ represents affection and sympathy, as well as peace and prosperity. The poet’s use of words is deft, adding to the poem’s beauty. The poet freely employs descriptive language such as ‘gleaming eyes’,’mighty chest’, and’soft soundless paws’ to convey the tiger’s terrifying aspect, while the poet uses a negative term such as ‘wild deer’ to refer to an innocent animal.


Krishnendu Guha · April 16, 2022 at 7:21 am

I’m completely absolved and perplexed to know about this poem by the great Rishi Sri Aurobindo

A.V. Stella Mary · March 21, 2024 at 5:49 am

The article useful for my pg courses

The Tiger and The Deer | Summary, Explanation and Solved Questions » Smart English Notes · February 25, 2022 at 9:29 am

[…] The Tiger and the Deer is a metaphysical lyric of great significance and may be classed with some of his mystical poems like “Thought and Paraclete “. It projects the bright and burning terror of the forest, namely the tiger which inflicts unprovoked disaster and suffering to peace and innocence, that is the deer. The poem could be interpreted as a symbolic expression of the modern craze for power and domination over the underdogs and the downtrodden; of the predominance of tamasik (evil) over satwik (good). Based on such an interpretation, the prophecy contained in the last lines of the poem indicates the transformation of souls leading to the divination of the entire earth. […]

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