William Blake’s literary masterwork, ‘The Tyger,‘ has been analyzed from literal and metaphorical points of view as he reviews his desired dilemmas of innocence vs. experience. As for God, his creations are beautiful and transcend the notions of good and evil. His poem, ‘The Tyger,‘ shows no visual answers but offers more questions.
“Songs of Innocence and “Songs of Experience” juxtapose opposite sides of humanity, contrasting innocence, and corruption. The Tyger is an extension of the same theme and represents two different perspectives on the human world. William Blake does not take sides but presents a different worldview for his readers.
The Tyger stanza-wise summary
Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The speaker directly addresses a tiger, imagining its bright flashes of color in the dark night-time forest. The speaker asks which immortal being could possibly have created the tiger’s fearsome beauty.
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 speaker was surprised by which far-off depths or skies the tiger’s fiery eyes were made. Did the tiger’s inventor have wings and whose hand would be daring enough to create the tiger?
And what shoulder, & what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat. What dread hand? & what dread feet?
The poet visualizes the different kinds of effort and talent that must have driven the creation of the tiger, wondering who would be powerful enough to create the tiger’s muscular body. Whose hands and feet were the ones that constructed the tiger’s heart to start beating?
What the hammer? what the chain, In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp. Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
The speaker speculates on the tools used by the creator of the tiger and imagines that the brain of the tiger was made in a forge. Is it possible for a terrifying creature to create the tiger such a daring act?
When the stars threw down their spears And water'd heaven with their tears: Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
The speaker comments when the stars gave up their weapons and rained their tears on heaven. At this time, wonders the speaker, did the creator look at the tiger and smile at his accomplishment? And was the tiger made by the same creator who made the lamb?
Tyger Tyger burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye, Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
The speaker addresses the tiger again, this time wondering who could create this fearsome beast and who would dare. The poet repeated the first stanza in the last stanza.
The Tyger Critical Appreciation
The Tyger by William Blake is taken from The Songs of Experience. The tiger itself is a symbol of the fierce forces in the soul that are necessary to break the bonds of experience. The tiger also stands for a divine spirit that will not be subdued by restrictions but will arise against established rules and conventions.
The Tyger is a highly symbolic poem based on Blake’s philosophy of spiritual and intellectual revolution by people. The speaker in the poem is puzzled at the view of a tiger at night. He raises questions about its aggressive appearance and its creator. Blake’s philosophy of symbol myths about human life, societies, and spiritual revolution must apply to the context and all it contains.
To some extent, it is also a romantic poem written by the pre-romantic William Blake. The ‘Tyger’ is a symbolic tiger representing the fierce force in the human soul. It is made in the imagination of the god with the highest imagination, spirituality, and ideals. Parts of the powerful creation tools of the imaginative artist include an anvil, fire, furnace, chain, hammer, and hammer. The imaginative artist is interchangeable with the creator. A man with a revolutionary spirit can use such powers to fight against the evils of experience.
So, the god creating the tiger can be interpreted as any of these creative artists who inspire ordinary men to free their minds, hearts, and souls from the chains of social misconceptions of the king, the priest, the landlord, and their systems that eat up someone’s potential. The creator has strong shoulders (energy), art (skills), and dread feet and hands. His courage is ultimate, too. His creation is fierce, almost daunting himself. So must be man’s spirit and imagination, or the poet’s. The forest symbolizes corrupted social conventions that try to suppress good human potential. The poem nightstands for ignorance, out of which the forest of false social institutions are made.
Likewise, the concern of a person asking questions and getting puzzles by the tiger symbolically represents the final beginning of the realization and appreciation of the forces of his soul. Then this person will begin his spiritual revolution. This poem is taken from “Songs of Experience”, which depicts immorality, corruption, and suffering in the adult world. After passing through the “Innocence” phase, or the pure child-like mentality in the “Songs of Innocence”, the speaker in this poem begins to realize the suppressed power of the soul and its necessity. Its fearful faces puzzle him, and he realizes that he has acquired not only the lamb-like humility but also the tigerlike energy to fight back against the dominance of the evil society. This tigerlike force in the soul can free the qualities of the pure and original man. Blake’s imaginative man or creative artist is rebellious. It is also a symbol of the double potential that every human being has.
Thematically, the poem is intended to make us witness the persona realizing the potential of his soul and realizing it ourselves. We have the lamb (Christ) like humility and the tigerlike quality for spiritual revolution and freedom from falsities. The unusual spelling of “Tyger” also hints at the special meaning and emphasis of the unusual stresses. The use of the first stanza as a refrain repeating it with the difference of one word (dare) at the end is also for a particular emphasis on its symbolism. Readers who have learned some of their personal symbols of Blake can only understand this poem. But it is relatively easy after we get at the basic symbols.