Tag Archives: tiger

“Sonnet 19: Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws” by William Shakespeare

Portrait of a Young Man: Piero di Cosimo

Portrait of a Young Man: Piero di Cosimo

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet’st,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O, carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.

This is another romantic fair youth sonnet in which Shakespeare expresses his longing to immortalize the young man’s beauty through poetry. But I noticed something interesting about this sonnet which I feel gives some insight into the fair youth and why Shakespeare found him so attractive. The key is in the first four lines:

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;

Here we have four metaphors, two symbolizing masculine strength and beauty, and two representing feminine. In lines 1 and 3, the lion and the tiger symbolize the masculine, images of strength, manly grace, and power. In lines 2 and 4, we have the earth and the phoenix, feminine symbols of beauty associated with creation and rebirth. The fact that Shakespeare vacillates between the masculine and feminine implies that the young man to whom the sonnet is composed possesses a balance of masculine and feminine qualities, allowing him to transcend the concept of gender-based beauty. And because the youth’s physical traits encompass both masculine and feminine beauty, he becomes, in Shakespeare’s eyes, the paragon of what human beauty should be.

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“The Little Girl Found” by William Blake

LittleGirlFound1

This poem is the follow up to “The Little Girl Lost” (click here to read my thoughts on that poem). While I struggled to get a sense of the first poem, I found this one to be more unified and easier to interpret. Since the poem is fairly long, I am including a link to read it online, rather than including the text within this post.

The Little Girl Lost

The first half of the poem has the mother and father searching the desert for their lost daughter, Lyca. I see the parents as symbolic of the god and goddess. Their child, having fallen from grace, is now lost in the wilderness.

During their search, they encounter the lion. At first it seems that the lion will attack the parents, but then proves to be caring and protective. The lion transforms into a powerful, protective spiritual being. This being could be either an archangel or a Christ figure.

They look upon his eyes
Fill’d with deep surprise;
And wondering behold
A spirit arm’d in gold.    

On his head a crown;
On his shoulders down
Flow’d his golden hair.
Gone was all their care.

The lion then guides the parents to his den, where they are reunited with their daughter. Although the girl is living among “tygers wild,” she is being protected and appears to be unharmed. Blake seems to be implying that in order to live in the world, you must have spiritual protection; otherwise you fall prey to the ravages of society.

LittleGirlFound2The poem ends on a bittersweet note. The parents and Lyca are protected, but there is a cost. They are alone in the world. Once you choose the spiritual path and accept the protection of a divine being, then you can no longer be a part of society, or at least, not as you were before.

To this day they dwell
In a lonely dell;
Nor fear the wolfish howl
Nor the lions’ growl.

Years ago I made a major life change which put me on a spiritual path. When this happened, I experienced the consequences of losing some friends who were close to me at the time. Our relationships were different; we were on different paths. I was sad at first, but I accepted it. As we go through life, we change and sometimes the people we are close to change in different ways. Rather than dwelling in sorrow over things like this, I choose to be grateful for the time we had together, sharing part of the journey.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you have a blessed day.

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