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William Blake

(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 / London)

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The Tiger


Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forest 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, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and 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 watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2001
Edited: Saturday, May 18, 2013

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  • Freshman - 1,651 Points Susan Wetmore (12/7/2014 10:25:00 AM)

    Surely William Blake is commenting, obliquely, on Lord Byron and on Lady Caroline Lamb? (Byron is the Tyger.) But this is a beautifully written metaphor and poem anyway, one of my very favorites. Blake's coy way of flirting with the libel laws of his time is irrelevant to my reading pleasure in our modern age. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Colleen Courtney (7/4/2014 8:20:00 AM)

    Such a wonderful poem of the poet. Always been one of my favorites. That fifth stanza just gets me every time! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,751 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/4/2014 4:04:00 AM)

    Powerful poem and also beautiful. The poet tries to understand the reason or secret behind the burning brightness of eyes of the tiger in night and it is a wonderful poem. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 6,756 Points * Sunprincess * (6/17/2014 10:30:00 PM)

    ........we can contemplate our creators creations until the end of time.....and still puzzled we will be.... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 8 Points Thomas Vaughan Jones (1/17/2014 2:20:00 PM)

    Absolutely majestic. Superb imagery incorporating the writers awe of the mighty beast and deepest respect for the Creator. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Karen Byrne (11/24/2013 9:37:00 AM)

    Shahzia, Thank you for your interpretation of the poem! Some poetry is lost on me. I feel like with your breakdown, I was sitting in a classroom. Thank you! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Otteri Selvakumar (7/4/2013 1:37:00 PM)

    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?
    nice writing...... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 88 Points Stephen Loomes (7/4/2013 2:14:00 AM)

    The majesty of Bill Blake's vision is a gift to humanity, and in this poem, the music of the words attends the height of Mozart (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Bri Marie (1/26/2013 12:32:00 PM)

    I first heard this on the tv show The Mentalist and it enchanted me right away. Who knew I would ever hear anything so beautiful and profound from a tv show! Bravo to The Mentalist writers. :) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 416 Points Shahzia Batool (7/4/2012 3:00:00 AM)

    The Tiger

    Any reader of Blake would certainly find The Tiger as a remarkable poem with a difference. Only Blake's genius afforded a hidden, great & mystical theme under the veil of animal imagery. Here a deep mystical sense overshadows with an apostrophising impulse, indicating wonder at the diversity of God's creations.As The Lamb is symbolic of meekness, tenderness, beauty & innocence, but when we ascend the ladder of Experience that is atrewn with grief, disappointment, & injustices of life, the symbols of the poet get changed at once; the symbol of this kind of life is The Tiger...strong, restless, remorseless, ruthless...but beautiful.

    Blake not only wonders at the burning eyes & fearful symmetry, but he tries to catch a glimpse of the Power that created it; The enigma, in fact, is not the Tiger, but the Creator.It is the divine incomprehensibility that strikes the note of amazement.Blake takes care of the aura as well; if meadows are the fit places for frisking & frolicking of the lamb, forests provide the apt atmosphere for all the actions & movements of this regal being. Herein lies the cause of the poet's wonder, not on the fierce heart or dreadful feet of the tiger, but the divine power that could create the antagonistic objects, that could bound together these strong muscles & sinews...vigorous, horrible & ferocious.

    The real obscurity lies in the 5th stanza where the Biblical connotation is concealed behind the outward symbols. The line
    when the stars threw down their spears can be found in his epic The Four Zoas with the same context. The personification of stars means (though not definitely) the person of Urizen throwing down the spears. The stars symbolise Milton's fallen angels also who, with lucifer, refused to serve God. This poem is all about God with the concept of contrariness, the Being who created the meek prey lamb, could also create the aggressor -the tiger...in the last line the word DARE replaced the word COULD.From the creations to the creator, understanding God through whatever He has created, is the main theme of this puzzling yet beautiful poem.
    shahzia batool (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Osama Waqar (7/4/2012 2:02:00 AM)

    beautiful, .............nothing less than an innovative piece of art........just unexplainable (Report) Reply

  • Rookie . Watson (12/4/2011 8:33:00 PM)

    it is talking about how can God have made such a fearsome beast as the tigerbut also have made the lamb (Report) Reply

Read all 43 comments »

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