The Tyger

The Tyger

by William Blake

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, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & 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?

Summary of The Tyger

  • Popularity of “The Tyger”: William Blake, a great artist and poet, wrote ‘The Tyger’.  It is known as the most cryptic lyrical poem of English literature and was first published in 1794 in Blake’s first volume of Songs of Experience. The poem presents the amazement of the speaker about the creation of a fiery tiger. It also illustrates the significance of God’s power and the existence of the divine will.
  • “The Tyger” “As a Representative of Wonder”: As this poem is about the creation of tiger, the writer expresses that everything present in the universe reflects the image of its creator despite their cruel nature. The emphatically striking image of the tiger makes him think of its creator, and he doubts if this violent thing is created by God or Satan. In fact, he gets puzzled at the sight of a tiger in the dark. Therefore, he poses a series of questions about his fierce appearance and the creator who has created it. On seeing its perfect symmetry, he questions what tools could God have used to craft its body. He also resolves as his questions are unanswerable and beyond human understanding. By comparing the tiger with fire and talks about the existence of evil in the world. However, what enchants the readers is the way he has juxtaposed evil and good in the poem.
  • Major Themes in “The Tyger”: Wonder and good versus evil are the major themes in the poem. The writer has used visual imagery coupled with other literary elements to incorporate these themes in the text. Throughout the poem, the speaker shows a sense of awe and wonder about the creation of the tiger. While observing the astounding symmetry of the tiger, he fails to understand how the same God who created the gentle lamb could also make the vicious Tiger. However, the poem reflects that humans cannot understand the supremacy of God’s and his work.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “The Tyger”

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings with the use of these devices. Blake has also used literary devices in this poem to show the fearsome and yet magnificent image of a tiger. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been analyzed below.

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of/i/ in “Tyger Tyger, burning bright” and /ae/ sound in “Dare its deadly terrors clasp!”
  • Metaphor: It is a figure of speech used to compare two objects or persons different in nature. There are two metaphors in the poem. The first is used in the second line, “In the forests of the night” he compares tiger with darkness and repression. The second is used in the sixth line, “Burnt the fire of thine eyes?” he compares its eyes with fire or something evil.
  • Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear. Blake has used a series of questions in this poem to emphasize his point such as given below:

“What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.”

  • Personification: Personification is to attribute human qualities to inanimate things. Blake has used personification in the fifth stanza where he considers stars as humans,

“When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:”

  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /t/ and /b/ in “Tyger Tyger, burning bright” and the sound of /f/ in “Dare frame thy fearful symmetry”.
  • Apostrophe: An apostrophe is a device used to call somebody from far. The poet has used this device in the first line, “Tyger Tyger, burning bright.”
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. “The Tyger” represents the evil and beauty too, “the forest of the night” represents unknown challenges, “the blacksmith” represents the creator and “the fearful symmetry” symbolizes the existence of both good and evil.
  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. Blake has used imagery to show the unique creation of God such as, “What immortal hand or eye,”, “Burnt the fire of thine eyes?” and “In the forests of the night.”

The literary analysis shows that Blake has skillfully employed these devices to make the poem simple to understand.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The Tyger”

 Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are six stanzas in this poem with each stanza having four lines in it.
  • Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is quatrain as the first one or the second one.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed in the entire poem is AABB.
  • End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. End rhyme occurs within the second and third lines and again within the second and fourth lines. The rhyming words are, “bright”, “night”, “skies” and “eyes.”
  • Repetition: There is a repetition of the phrase, “Tyger Tyger burning bright”, which has created a musical quality in the poem.
  • Refrain: The words that are repeated at some distance in the poem are called refrain. The phrase, “Tyger Tyger burning bright” is repeated with the same words, it has become a refrain as it has been repeated in first and last stanza.

Quotes to be Used

The lines quoted below can be used when describing a tiger in a science class or while sharing a fantasy story with a tiger in it.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?