“The Tyger” by William Blake

I’m currently reading The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht and I am noticing similarities between the imagery in the book and William Blake’s poem “The Tyger.” So, I decided it would be worth my while to read Blake’s poem again.

In “The Tyger,” Blake portrays the animal as a godlike creature associated with fire. In fact, there is a clear analogy between the Tyger and two gods most commonly associated with fire, Lucifer and Promethius.

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?

The images of fire are then used to describe the creative process. In addition to being a poet and a painter, Blake was also an engraver, so he was very familiar with the concept of forging as part of artistic creation.

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

Near the end of the poem, Blake poses the question: “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” I feel that Blake was asking this question for his readers. Blake views the Tyger and the Lamb as both being necessary to maintain a balance, a sort of yin and yang, both spiritually and creatively. In order to create moving art, you need moments of peaceful calm and moments of burning passion. In other words, you need “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”

Click here to read the poem online.

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2 Comments

Filed under Literature

2 responses to ““The Tyger” by William Blake

  1. Pingback: “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht | Stuff Jeff Reads

  2. Pingback: “Night” by William Blake | Stuff Jeff Reads

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