... dunno what happened to Sunday's poem. Martin?
(Poem #66) The Tyger
Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright, In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 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? And what shoulder, and what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand? And what dread feet? What the hammer? What the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? What dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 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? Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Another famous poem which is no less wonderful for being popular... this is one of the earliest poems I remember being entranced by, and to this day the magic remains as powerful as it was the first time round. [Overview] Published in 1794 as one of the Songs of Experience, Blake's "The Tyger" is a poem about the nature of creation, much as is his earlier poem from the Songs of Innocence, "The Lamb." However, this poem takes on the darker side of creation, when its benefits are less obvious than simple joys. Blake's simplicity in language and construction contradicts the complexity of his ideas. This poem is meant to be interpreted in comparison and contrast to "The Lamb," showing the "two contrary states of the human soul" with respect to creation. It has been said many times that Blake believed that a person had to pass through an innocent state of being, like that of the lamb, and also absorb the contrasting conditions of experience, like those of the tiger, in order to reach a higher level of consciousness. In any case, Blake's vision of a creative force in the universe making a balance of innocence and experience is at the heart of this poem.The poem's speaker is never defined, and so may be more closely aligned with Blake himself than in his other poems. One interpretation could be that it is the Bard from the Introduction to the Songs of Experience walking through the ancient forest and encountering the beast within himself, or within the material world. The poem reflects primarily the speaker's response to the tiger, rather than the tiger's response to the world.It important to remember that Blake lived in a time that had never heard of popular psychology as we understand it today. He wrote the mass of his work before the Romantic movement in English literature. He lived in a world that was in the opening stages of the Industrial Revolution, and in the midst of political revolutions all over Europe and in America. As we look at his work we must in some way forget many of the ideas about creativity, artists, and human nature that we take for granted today, and reimagine them for the first time as, perhaps, Blake did himself. It is in this way that Blake's poetry has the power to astound us with his insight. [Construction] "The Tyger" contains six four-line stanzas, and uses pairs of rhyming couplets to create a sense of rhythm and continuity. The notable exception occurs in lines 3 and 4 and 23 and 24, where "eye" is imperfectly paired, ironically enough, with "symmetry."The majority of lines in this lyric contain exactly seven syllables, alternating between stressed and unstressed syllables: Tyger! / Tyger! / burning / bright . . . This pattern has sometimes been identified as trochaic tetrameter four ("tetra") sets of trochees, or pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables even though the final trochee lacks the unstressed syllable. There are several exceptions to this rhythm, most notably lines 4, 20, and 24, which are eight-syllable lines of iambic tetrameter, or four pairs of syllables that follow the pattern unstress/stress, called an iamb. This addition of an unstressed syllable at the beginning of each of these lines gives them extra emphasis. [Criticism] "The Tyger" has long been recognized as one of Blake's finest poems; in his 1863 Life of William Blake, biographer Alexander Gilchrist relates that the poem "happens to have been quoted often enough ... to have made its strange old Hebrew-like grandeur, its Oriental latitude yet force of eloquence, comparatively familiar" and that essayist and critic Charles Lamb wrote of Blake: "I have heard of his poems, but have never seen them. There is one to a tiger ... which is glorious!" In his 1906 work William Blake: A Critical Essay, British poet and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne similarly calls the lyric "a poem beyond praise for its fervent beauty and vigour of music."Many critics have focused on the symbolism in "The Tyger," frequently contrasting it with the language, images, and questions of origin presented by its "innocent" counterpart, "The Lamb." E. D. Hirsch, Jr., for instance, notes that while "The Tyger" satirizes the lyrics found in "The Lamb" that is not the poem's primary function. As the critic asserts in his Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake, in combining tones of terror and awe at a being that could create the tiger as well as the lamb, the poet "celebrates the divinity and beauty of the creation and its transcendance of human good and evil without relinquishing the Keatsian awareness that 'the miseries of the world Are misery.'" Hazard Adams believes that the poem demonstrates that "creation in art is for Blake the renewal of visionary truth." He explains in his 1963 study William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems that while the tiger may be terrifying, it presents an intensity of vision that should be welcomed with "a gaiety which can find a place in the divine plan for both the tears and spears of the stars, ... and for both the tiger and the lamb."While 'The Tyger' can be read in a variety of ways, Mark Schorer asserts in William Blake: The Politics of Vision that "the juxtaposition of lamb and tiger points not merely to the opposition of innocence and experience, but to the resolution of the paradox they present." As the lamb is subjected to the travails of the world, "innocence is converted to exprience. It does not rest there. Energy can be curbed but it cannot be destroyed, and when it reaches the limits of its endurance, it bursts forth in revolutionary wrath." Jerome J. McGann, however, asserts in a 1973 essay that the poem defies specific interpretation: "As with so many of Blake's lyrics, part of the poem's strategy is to resist attempts to imprint meaning upon it. "The Tyger" tempts us to a cognitive apprehension but in the end exhausts our efforts." As a result, the critic concludes, "the extreme diversity of opinion among critics of Blake about the meaning of particular poems and passages of poems is perhaps the most eloquent testimony we have to the success of his work." For a very detailed, line-by-line analysis of the poem, do visit http://www.gale.com/gale/poetry/tyger.html thomas.