The Tyger By William Blake: Critical Analysis
The Tyger is the most impressive and the most striking of the poems included in Songs of Experience. It was written I contrast to The Lamb of the Songs of Innocence. The theme of the poem is a simple one but its apparent simplicity simply Intensifies its visionary quality.
The tiger is a part of the creation. The beauty and ferocity of the beast overwhelms the poet. The speaker wonders at the dreadful and yet well proportioned shape of the beast and asks who could have been the designer. The poet asks what manner, devices and instruments the Creator could have employed to bring about such a wonder.
The tiger is a classic poem in its use of imagery and symbolism. The images here have their special strength and freedom. The poem opens with a vivid, dramatic visual effect as the tiger almost leaps out at us from the page-
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night.
Our attention is always drawn to the sound as well as sight imagery in the poem. This is the sound imagery which provides one of the contrasts between Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. The physical, tangible and tactile quality is suggested in the final of the first stanza: could frame thy fearful symmetry? The shape, from and physical movement of the beast have been caught in the phrase, fearful symmetry and the idea of physical immediacy is conveyed in the line What the hand, dare se ze the fire?”
But the image in the poem gains added significance and magnitude when it moves into the arena of symbolism. Blacks spelling of Tyger is worth nothing for it seems to emphasize the symbolic quality of the animal. The tiger symbolizes the fierce forces in the soul, which are needed to break the bonds of experience. For some the tiger with its fearful symmetry stands for the pervasive evil in the world; for others, the tiger symbolizes an awful beauty in creature; and for still others the tiger is a symbol of praise for the creation of the universe.
The poem may be interpreted as an allegory reflecting the opposing powers of God and Satan, of good and evil. Both Lamb and Tyger and visibly the parts of God’s creation. God created the tiger, the aggressor, and the lamb, the prey. The co-existence of fierceness represented by the tiger and the gentleness. The fierce strength terrifying in its possibilities of destructiveness is seemingly an open challenge to the idea of a being Creator. The last but one stanza is intrinsic to the allegorical effect.
When the starts threw down their spears
And waters heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
The starts are the rebel angels and the tiger is related with Satan. God created Satan who challenged him for supremacy. Satan’s lures and temptations were shining bright and the angels joined Satan in an act of rebellion. Blake was familiar with account of rebellion in the Bible.
Whatever the interpretation of the poem, it is one of the best and most popular pomes of Blake. Blake almost disdained the use of epithet in this poem, and succeeded, not by color, but by the use of strong naked outline. The diction is almost monosyllabic, and the trochaic movement, freely used, has a dignity here, which it usually lacks in English, even when the line ends in an accented monosyllable. Alliteration is most effectively used to emphasize metrical accent.