“The Tyger” is one of Blake’s most lover and most quoted poems. This poem appeared in “The Songs of Experience” first published in 1794. This poem is widely read and acknowledged. Kids read it in elementary school as it rhymes about the animal “Tyger”. High School students read it as their teachers preach them to grow tough as they prepare to face the mighty world. Scholars read it because it connects poets other work and its theme touches a lots of issues. Through this write-up, I want to convey a simple message to the people to be tougher and face all situations just like a Tyger does without fear and with great pride.
The poem “Tyger” is themed on a process of creation of the Tyger and its physical appearance. The Tyger has frightful and deadly appearance. The Tyger symbolizes tremendous forces of the human soul which are required to break free from the shackles of the worldly experiences like sorrow, disappointment and injustice which every human mind has to pass through.
With the following lines: “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry”, Blake describes the Tyger as a fearsome creature. The first stanza creates an extremely visual illustration of the Tyger “burning bright, in the forest of the night”. In second stanza’s last line, the poet thinks the creator is a blacksmith, by asking a question “What the hand dare seize the fire?”
The poet uses a lot of symbols in the body of the poem such as “a hammer”, “a chain”, “a furnace” and “an anvil” when he says “What the hammer? What the chain? , In what furnace was thy brain? , What the anvil? What dread grasp, Dare its deadly terrors clasp?” These are symbols of industry and not symbols that we normally use to associate with a living creature.
Its fierceness and power are appealing even when the angels were sorrowful with fear at what the Tyger could do, and they broke down to tears when he says “When the stars threw down their spears, and watered heaven with their tears”. “The Tyger” acknowledges the human ideals of compassion, care, love and kindness as well as trans-human ideals of destructiveness, brutality and strength.
The poet in the fifth stanza, pairs this poem “The Tyger” with the poem called “The Lamb” from “Songs of Innocence”. This is the most moving stanza of the poem. The poet hardly believes that the creator of lamb could create Tyger when he narrates in his poem “Did he smile his work to see? , Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” The Tyger represents evil, wild, and ferocious whereas the lamb refers to the innocence, peacefulness and delicacy. It portrays co-existence of good and evil. There are two elements in life – innocence and experience. The poet has referred the Tyger to experience and lamb to innocence in his poem. With the innocence the poet shows the childhood and with the experience he shows the adulthood. When innocence is destroyed by experience when such social evils as injustices, oppressions and superstitions seek to devour the joyous of life, the Tyger is needed to restore innocence.
The last stanza is the repeat of the first stanza just like a chorus with one key word alteration from “Could” to “Dare”. The tone of the poem is very soft. The poet keeps asking questions as if he was amazed at the existence of this huge creature.
Famous Critic, Alred Kazin in “Introduction to William Blake” describes “The Tyger” as “A poem of triumphant human awareness; it is a hymn to pure being”.