Charles Perkins

Topics: Chimney sweep, William Blake, Stanza Pages: 7 (2197 words) Published: March 20, 2013

“The Tyger” by William Blake is a lyric poem that depicts the nature of the creator and his creations. The poem is more about the creator of the tyger than it is about the tyger. In contemplating the terrible ferocity and awe-inspiring symmetry of the tyger, the speaker is at a loss to explain how the same God who made the meek, innocent lamb could create a horrifying creature such as the tyger. This essay will provide a detailed analysis of William Blake’s “The Tyger” paying particular attention, firstly to the extended metaphor in stanza’s 2, 3 and 4, secondly, to the poetic significance of repetition, in particular to the phrase “fearful symmetry”, thirdly, to the role that the rhythm and metre play in creating an urgent need to address the succession of the questions and lastly, the evocation of the sublime emotion of terror in Blake’s depiction of the Tyger.

Firstly, the extended metaphor in stanza’s 2, 3 and 4, is comparing the creator and his creation of the Tyger to a blacksmith and his creations. A blacksmith that makes use of tools, such as the “Hammer,” “chain,” ”furnace,” and “anvil” in creating objects out of hot metal. The blacksmith represents a conventional image of artistic creation; here Blake applies it to the divine creation of the natural world.

This is evident in Line 5:"In what distant deeps or skies”, refers to an otherworldly (“distant”) place, perhaps a kind of hell (“deeps”) or Heaven (“skies”). The “distant deeps or skies” bring to mind the concept of hell being underground and heaven being in the sky. Since the Tyger may have been created in either hell (deeps) “or” heaven (skies), it remains ambiguous as to whether the Tyger is good or bad.

Blake was essentially an artist. His Tyger is therefore a painting in words. The tyger in this poem is rather a magical, mystical creature. This is an artist’s impression of the animal, almost an alien creature with glowing eyes and stripes. Blake does not depict good and evil as opposites but rather different aspects of the nature of God. Good and evil are different and do matter in the natural world, especially in the way that men react with God’s creation.

The very first words expressed by Blake suggests that this tyger has been a “forged” creation “In the forests of the night” nevertheless describes the dark, mysterious, cloaking and hiding fiery figure of the tyger. The “forging” of the tiger suggests a very physical, painstaking, and intentional kind of making; it emphasizes the remarkable physical presence of the tiger and precludes the idea that such a creation could have been in any way accidentally or haphazardly produced. The word “forge” means to create or form is a smith term as well as another name for a smith’s furnace. The smith reference also ties into all the fire imagery associated with the Tyger, and emphasizes the energy and danger in the design of the Tyger. However the third stanza depicts a parallelism of “shoulder” and “art,” that it is not just the body but also the “heart” of the tiger that is being forged. Therefore, this is not merely a physical forgery but also a psychological. Hence “In what furnace was thy brain” moreover suggests that the mind of the tyger is also shaped and twisted under this extreme heat and energy the fire in the “furnace” kindles. In the process of constructing this tyger it therefore becomes the beast that it is thus is “framed” to be; both terrifying and similarly remarkably elegant.

Therefore what this tiger symbolizes is not the typical, blood thirsty predator who possesses purely animalistic characteristics. Unfortunately Blake’s “tyger” is a symbol of the darker side of life, the overwhelming struggle of mankind against the brute force of reality. With this struggle comes growth and maturity. The lamb and tyger, although opposites, are nevertheless each synonymous with the struggle of life, from innocence to harsh experience.

The tiger symbolizing nature red in tooth and...
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