2 ContentsA brief introduction of those famous writers in the transitional period from neo-classicism to RomanticismThe pre-Romanticist: William BlakeLife experiencePoints of viewHis masterpiesce, Songs of Innocence and Songs of ExperienceAppreciation and brief analysis of the contrasting poems The Lamb and The Tyger from Songs of Innocence and Songs of ExperienceASSINMENTS.
3 A brief introduction of those famous writers in the transitional period from neo-classicism to Romanticism
4 In the age of enlightenment, the literary desire to retain the perfection of the Greek and Roman classicists and the freedom now granted the writer a sense of duty for a better and healthier life of the nation. Literary works of all kinds appeared. However, in the later part of 18th century, people began to feel discontented with rigid rationality. A demand for a release of one’s spontaneous feeling, a relaxation from the cold and rigid logic of rationality and an escape from the negative effects caused by industrial revolution gradually took shape in the form of sentimental and pre-romantic poetry and novel. Here are some famous writers in this literary scene.
5 James Thomson( )He was famous for his poem, The Seasons, which represents nature in its totality. This poem contains over 5,500 lines, consisting of four seasons. “Winter” appeared in 1726, “Summer” in 1727, “Spring” in 1728, and “Autumn” in The sounds and sights in it call naturally for emotional echoes from the human bosom.
6 Edward Young ( )He is known for his long poem of some ten thousand lines, Complaint,or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, reflecting his meditation on man and his life in this world and the next. The mood is gloomy, and the tone morbid. This poem is a brilliant example of the graveyard poetry.
7 George Crabbe( )He is said to be the last neo-classic poet. However, taking concern with social life, he is not totally neo-classic. His poetry is often classic in form (heroic couplet) but emotional in theme. His poem The Village is a very good example.
9 William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language".His visual artistry has led one modern critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced
10 Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterized as part of both the Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jacob Boehme and Emanuel Swedenborg.
11 Life ExperienceWilliam Blake was an important landmark in between two literary periods, pointing directly to that of Romanticism. He was born and brought up in London. His father, an Irishman, carried on a small hosiery business. Shoeing a great talent for painting as a child, he was sent to a drawing school. At the age of 14, he became apprenticed to James Basire, an engraver. After 7-year term was over, he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1779, he began to earn his living as an engraver. At the age of 24, he married Catherine Boucher. The marriage proved to be a lifelong happiness, though there were difficulties for them. Through all his life, he had been both a poet and an engraver. He lived a life of seclusion and poverty. However, his genius in poetry remained unknown in his lifetime.
12 Points of viewIn literature: As the first important Romantic poet, he shows contempt for the rule of reason, opposing the classic tradition of 18th century, and treasuring the individual’s imagination.In politics: He was politically left because of his frequent contact with Thomas Paine, etc.;Views about mysticism and religion: He recognizes the coexistence of good and evil. He thinks that it is wrong to separate the body from the soul in an individual being, and that it is even more wrong to say that energy – called “evil” – is alone from body, and the reason – called “good” – is alone from soul. By separating the body from the soul, religion, he claims, has outlawed the body and cut off the mind from the real source of its energy. This just make up the basic fabric of his poetry include his concern with social events and his mysticism.
13 His major works: The last two lines of p129 to the first paragraph of p130. His masterpiesce, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience:The famous contrast in the two volumes:Song of Innocence is a lovely volume of poems, presenting a happy and innocent world, though not without its evils and sufferings. He look at the world with the innocent eyes of a child. (Read from p130 to 131).(The Lamb is from this volume.)Songs of Experience, however, paints a different world, a world of misery, poverty, disease, war and repression with a melancholy tone. (The Tyger if from this volume)
14 Appreciation of The Lamb and The Tyger The cover of Songs of InnocenceThe cover of Songs of Experience
16 Understanding the picture of The Lamb Since Blake intended his books to be read in the form in which he printed them, in which each poem was accompanied by an illustration, it is always worth examining a poem’s visual aspect. The illustration for “The Lamb” shows a child reaching out to touch a lamb, while sheep graze behind them. There is also a cottage, an oak tree and a stream. But what catches the eye are the two saplings on either side of the illustration, both of which are entwined with vines. The saplings reach up to the top of the frame, and then arch over the entire scene, intertwining with each other in what looks like a riot of jubilation. The cooperative interfusing of nature that is part of the theme of the poem thus receives visual representation.
17 The LambSynopsis: The poem begins with the question, "Little Lamb, who made thee?" Here, the speaker, a child, asks the lamb about its origins: how it came into being, how it acquired its particular manner of feeding, its "clothing" of wool, its "tender voice." In the next stanza, the speaker attempts a riddling answer to his own question: the lamb was made by the creator who "calls himself a Lamb," the creator who resembles in his gentleness both the child and the lamb. The poem ends with the child bestowing a blessing on the lamb.
18 Understanding and appreciation of The Lamb Little Lamb, who made thee?Dost thou know who made thee;Gave thee life and bid thee feedBy the stream and o’er the mead;Gave thee clothing of delightSoftest clothing, wooly, bright;Gave thee such a tender voiceMaking all the vales rejoice?Dost thou know who made thee?;Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:He is called by thy name,For He calls Himself a Lamb.He is meek and He is mild;He became a little child.I a child and thou a lamb,We are called by His name.Little Lamb, God bless thee.
19 INTRODUCTIONThis poem is one of Blake’s most celebrated poems from his 1789 collection Songs of Innocence and f Expeorience, “The Lamb” subtly approaches the subject of creativity and creator alike. While on the surface Blake’s narrator seems to be speaking of the life of a real, physical lamb, in the end one realizes he is layering meaning with subtext derived from both Christian and classical mythology. The lamb is also a symbol of Jesus Christ, both as a child and as a physical incarnation of the deity. The child is both a creation of God and a lamb, one of God’s flock. Blake begins with a simple image and approaches it from differing angles to give the reader a better understanding of his vision of the nature of Divine Creation.
20 Line-by-line understanding “The Lamb” establishes its theme quickly in the first two lines. When the narrator asks the lamb if it knows who created it, it is not calling attention to the biological parents. The narrator specifically asks about the nature of creation in the divine sense. The narrator does not think the creator is a what, but a whom, and this whom has the power to actually create life.Lines 1 – 2Little Lamb, who made thee?Dost thou know who made thee;
21 Gave thee life and bid thee feed The narrator implies much more than eating and drinking and the home of this little lamb with these two lines. The fact that the gift of life hints at the nature of Divine Law. These lines suggest that life, the natural life of a lamb, is a divine creation. The landscape reinforces the natural over the urban. .Lines 3 – 4Gave thee life and bid thee feedBy the stream and o’er the mead;
22 Gave thee clothing of delight These lines begin to suggest a second layer of meaning pertaining to the image of the lamb. They recall the swaddling cloths of the baby Jesus, and of his hair that was purported to be like “lamb’s wool.” The brightness of the lamb, and the brightness of Christ, comes from within, and also demonstrates their ability to reflect light. The whitest lamb reflects the most light.Lines 5 - 6Gave thee clothing of delightSoftest clothing, wooly, bright;
23 The lamb’s voice suggests a double meaning: the bleating of lambs sounds very “tender”; the voice of Christ. The words and the speech of Christ are often thought of as “tender” because they acclaim love and “rejoice” in life itself. The “vales” also have an additional meaning. Vales are valleys, a part of nature.Lines 7 – 8Gave thee such a tender voiceMaking all the vales rejoice?
24 Little Lamb, who made thee? With this new repetition, one has a new perspective on the lamb. This repetition emphasizes the largess, the grandeur of creativity. Specifically, one is called upon to contemplate the creation of both a biological lamb and a figurative lamb. One is asked to consider their relationship to each other, and to the Divine.Lines 9 – 10Little Lamb, who made thee?Dost thou know who made thee?
25 Summery of the first stanza: Blake asks questions directed to the animal. The picture of The Lamb's feeding "by the stream and o'er the mead" (=meadow) is a beautiful one, which suggests God's kindness in creation, and has an echo of similar descriptions in the Old Testament book of Psalms (especially Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want") and the parables of Jesus. Readers have to associate the creation of the Lamb with its creator. Who is the Creator? Imagine.
26 Only now does Blake introduce his narrator in the form of “I Only now does Blake introduce his narrator in the form of “I.” One can guess that this “I” could be Blake, or someone else. The identity is probably not as important as the idea that the narrator seems to understand at some level the nature of creation, and is enthusiastic to share with the lamb and with the reader what he or she knows! The repetition hints once again at the double, subtle nature of the lamb as a concept.Lines 11 – 12Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
27 Now the speaker brings the double definition of the lamb into a more obvious light. There can be no mistake that not only does the narrator refer to a biological lamb, but he also refers to Jesus Christ in the image of the lamb. Since he is writing about the nature of creation itself, then one can begin to draw conclusions about what Blake believes to be true about the spiritual as well as the mundane.Lines 13 – 14He is called by thy name,For He calls Himself a Lamb.
28 He is meek and He is mild; These lines give reference to Christ’s message that “the meek shall inherit the world” and the concept that gentleness and love is the ideal way of behaving in the world. Blake’s narrator also links the behavior of the Divine to the behavior of a little lamb. Then he makes further connection to the idea that the Creator and the little child are one and the same.Lines 15 – 16He is meek and He is mild;He became a little child.
29 The mystical relationship between “I” and “thou” has often been the very definition of God. The equivalent value of the child and the lamb, suggests a divine connection and comparison between the human being and the Divine. Both human child and animal child have an equal relationship to the Divine in both name and quality. They are both created by God.Lines 17 – 18I a child and thou a lamb,We are called by His name.
30 The repetition here serves to complete his idea of their relationship to the Divine with a blessing. The narrator’s revelation is now fully revealed. He blesses the lamb, himself, and the Christ with enthusiasm.And this blessing is from God.Lines 19 – 20Little Lamb, God bless thee.
31 Summery of the scond stanza: As well as becoming a child (like the speaker of the poem) Jesus became known as The Lamb of God: Jesus was crucified during the Feast of the Passover (celebrating the Jews' escape from Egypt) when lambs were slaughtered in the temple at Jerusalem. This was believed to take away the sins of the people who took part in the feast. So when Jesus was killed, for the sins of all people, according to the Christian faith, He came to be called The Lamb of God. Although this is an image mainly of meekness and self-sacrifice. In the last book of the Bible (Revelation) Jesus appears as a Lamb with divine powers, who defeats the Anti-Christ and saves mankind. Blake's poem seems to be mainly about God's love shown in his care for The Lamb and the child and about the apparent paradox that God became both child and Lamb in coming, as Jesus, into the world. (God is kind, merciful and graceful.)
32 ThemesInnocence: Perception in the state of innocence is always spontaneous; the child only asks questions (“Little Lamb, who made thee?”) to which he knows the answer (“Little Lamb I’ll tell thee”) and he asks only for the joy of explaining what he knows in the simplest of terms. He is free to experience joy through his senses. He enjoys the bleat of the lamb and assumes as a matter of course that everything else in nature (“all the vales”) rejoices in it too.The goodness of the creator who owns a source of kindness, altruism, and love. The idea of a kind creator is expressed by the alignment of the creator with the gentlest creation of the lamb.
33 Symbolism (What is the relation of the lamb and the child to God?) The lamb symbolizes Jesus, representing innocence.Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe to be the only son of God, took human form and “became a little child” coming into the world to save people. He finally became “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” The traditional image of Jesus as a lamb underscores the Christian values of gentleness, meekness, and peace. The child-speaker feels his own connection to the saviorThe equivalent value of the child and the lamb, suggests a divine connection and comparison between the human being and the Divine. Both human child and animal child have an equal relationship to the Divine in both name and quality. They are both created by God.
34 Style“The Lamb” consists of two ten-line stanzas which pose a question and give an answer. Each stanza has five pairs of rhyming couplets, where the end word of one line rhymes with the next. Note that Blake often repeats a word to create this rhyme, creating a type of refrain, and twice employs the slant or false rhyme of “lamb” and “name.” Most lines have seven syllables, except for the first and last couplets of each stanza, which have only six syllables. In the second stanza, it is worth noting that the word “called” is pronounced with two syllables, so that it is read “call-ed.”
35 Critical OverviewEnglish poet and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne notes in his 1906 work William Blake: A Critical Essay that the poem has “a very perfect beauty”: “All, for the music in them, more like the notes of birds caught up and given back than the modulated measure of human verse.”John Holloway believes that the poem is representative of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, which he sees as a harmonic collection with a distinctive form. In “The Lamb” the critic writes in his 1968 study Blake: The Lyric Poetry, “poetic form here merges into explicit statement. The point is that one can virtually assert this poem to have a structure, inasmuch as it has a structure of ideas: and the structure of ideas is a structure of identity, which is the ultimate condition of harmonious oneness.”Michele Leiss Stepto likewise observes a directness in the subject of the poem, which she believes “makes explicit the identification of the lamb, type of a sacrificial humanity, with the infant Jesus dear to the Christian church.”
36 The Tyger Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eyeCould frame thy fearful symmetryIn what distant deeps or skiesBurnt 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 graspDare 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 brightIn the forests of the night,What immortal hand or eye,Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
37 IntroductionPublished 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.
38 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.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.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.
39 The spelling in the title (The Tyger) The spelling in the title, the “Tyger” at once suggests the exotic or alien quality of the beast. The memorable opening couplet (pair of rhyming lines) points to the contrast of the dark "forest of the night" (which suggests an unknown and hostile place) and the intense "burning" brightness of the tiger's colouring: Blake writes here with a painter's eye.
40 Line-by line understanding William Blake’s tiger is a passionate, fiery creature, a beast, who lives in the shadows and dark hours of life. Some have considered this tiger representing the dark shadow of the human soul. The forests might represent the wild landscape of our imagination under the influence of this beast.Lines 1-2Tyger! Tyger! burning brightIn the forests of the night,
41 What immortal hand or eye power. We are asked not to consider the biological parentage of the tiger, but rather the Divine parentage of the tiger. In doing this we can begin to compare the nature of a lamb to a tiger, and begin to understand Blake’s philosophy about creation. The fact that perhaps the same immortal hand created both the domesticated and tame nature of the lamb, and the wild characteristic of the tiger is frightening in a way. There is a balance there, but perhaps not the kind of balance we would choose ourselves given the choice.Lines 3-4What immortal hand or eyeCould frame thy fearful symmetryWilliam Blake presents a question that embodies the theme: Who created the tiger? Was it the kind and loving God who made the lamb? Or was it Satan?These two lines should be familiar in context to the first two lines in Blake’s poem, “The Lamb.”Lined up next to each other they even rhyme. Since they appear in the companion text to Experience, we can draw the conclusion that this poem is meant to be understood in comparison and contrast to that earlier
42 Of course, there can be no gainsaying that the tiger symbolizes evil, or the incarnation of evil. Blake's inquiry is a variation on an old philosophical and theological question: Why does evil exist in a universe created and ruled by a benevolent God? Here is the tiger, fierce and brutal in its quest for sustenance; there is the lamb, meek and gentle in its quest for survival. (His doubt) Is it possible that the same God who made the lamb also made the tiger? Or was the tiger the devil's work?Lines 5-6In what distant deeps or skiesBurnt the fire of thy eyes?“distant deeps or skies” (biblical allusions and symbols)“Deeps” appear to refer to hell and “skies” to heaven. In either case, there would be fire--the fire of hell or the fire of the stars.*Blake realizes, of course, that God made all the creatures on earth. However, to express his bewilderment that the God who created the gentle lamb also created the terrifying tiger, he includes Satan as a possible creator while raising his rhetorical questions in Lines 5 and 6:
43 On what wings dare he aspire? “The Tyger” seems to be meant to be seen in comparison to “The Lamb” one can begin to guess at Blake’s intentions for our interpretation of the poem. “Fire” suggests a hellish beginning, and yet, it is daring that makes this very world possible. God could have imagined this world, but decided to create it.Lines 7-8On what wings dare he aspire?What the hand dare seize the fire?It could be debated that Blake argues here that the Fallen Archangel Lucifer (Satan) is the creator of the tiger. Another fallen God was Prometheus. He was damned to having his liver picked out by a bird of prey and have it grow back again every day throughout eternity, because he gave the power of fire to humanity.
44 And what shoulder, & what art, Lines 9-10And what shoulder, & what art,Could twist the sinews of thy heart?These lines speak to the very power and strength of the tiger, and of its maker. “Shoulders” and “art” both carry responsibilities and burdens. Sinews are the very tendons that make the heart work, and they are also known as a source of strength and power. Blake seems to be suggestingthat the creator of this powerful creature is awesome in its own right. Here we also get the very image of creativity as it happens. We see the shoulders in action. We see the process of the imagination in blending together the elements that make up a tiger. We see the twisting of the material heart into shape. The heart represents not only the biological engine of the tiger, but perhaps its passion for living.
45 And when thy heart began to beat, tiger in the descriptive language, and in these lines “dread” is the main idea. There seems to be an unspoken question implicit here, namely, “Why?” Perhaps, this is an attempt to reconcile the wild beast with a sense of order about the universe and its workings. Can God have created a dreadful creature, and if so does this task make God’s hands dreadful? If the artist is an earthly reflection of God’s creative nature, what does that say about the artist’s hands?Lines 11-12And when thy heart began to beat,What dread hand? & what dread feet?Now, the creation itself, the tiger, has a life of its own. No longer under the control of the artist, Blake wonders what the artist could have been thinking in creating it. Notice that Blake, or his narrator, speaks directly to the tiger, as did the speaker to the lamb. We perceive the narrator’s reaction to speaking directly to the
46 These lines could suggest that the encroachment of industry on the pastoral world of Blake’s childhood was the tangible hell to which the poet was referring. Again, we must return to the image of a fiery tiger whose very thinking began in a furnace. Here creation doesn’ t come so much from divine inspiration as divine perspiration.Lines 13-14What the hammer? what the chain?In what furnace was thy brain?Again, the imagery in these two lines is more infernal than heavenly. Hammers, chains and furnaces sound like an industrial factory more than an artist’s (a blacksmith’s) workshop.
47 The anvil is a tool of both industry and art The anvil is a tool of both industry and art. The artist or God or devil clasps and grasps in passion and with courage. What makes this courage and enthusiasm so deadly and terrifying? In these lines he confronts his worst fears about what it means to create. He never suggests, however, that the tiger shouldn’ t have been created.Lines 15-16What the anvil? what dread graspDare its deadly terrors clasp?
48 Historical context:French revolution: Blake was originally a supporter of it. As revolutionary activity in France grew increasingly more violent, however, such political views became dangerous. So Blake, therefore, obscured his ideas behind a veil of mysticism to circumvent government censure. Blake wrote “The Tyger” during the Reign of Terror, the violence of which must have tempered his enthusiasm somewhat. The unrestrained energy and horrific violence of “The Tyger” most likely reflect Blake’s mixed emotions concerning France at the time.
49 2. Enlightenment: An intellectual movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Enlightenment upheld rationalism. Authors of this period — especially John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and Ben Johnson — believed that knowledge is born of experience rather than from sense perception. Blake’s works, including “The Tyger,” emphatically assert otherwise. In addition to breaking from traditional poetic form in this poem, he exalted the creative powers of the imagination through the tiger.
50 3. Industrial Revolution: The perfection of the steam engine in 1765 by James Watt stimulated the Industrial Revolution. Thousands flocked to England’s industrial cities where they labored for starvation wages under poor conditions. Repulsed by the onset of industrialization, Blake often spoke against it in his poetry. The hellish environment of the tiger as depicted in the fourth stanza(“What the hammer? What the chain? / In what furnace was thy brain? / What the anvil? What dread grasp / Dare its deadly terrors clasp?”) is reminiscent of a smithy or factory of the time.
51 Lines 17-18When the stars threw down their spears,And water’ d heaven with their tears,These lines reinforce the idea of defeated and fallen angels. Lucifer’s minions, when defeated and condemned to hell, were thought to have created the milky way with their tears. Their battle had been over making angels superior to humanity in God’s eyes, but God refused. The difference, it is said, between humankind and the angels, is that humans were created with the capacity to improve.Lucifer, as the Devil, would have us forget this possibility. What does this myth have to do with the tiger? Perhaps, Blake is playing with the idea of perception. If we continue with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic canon, God created Lucifer and his followers, as well as the lambs. This is a fairly awesome concept. Something beautiful comes out of even the fallen angel’s descent — the stars themselves.
52 Did he smile his work to see? It suggests that God has the capacity for tenderness and dread, and that neither one or the other is more pleasurable. This also speaks to the romantic view of artists. Artists sometimes create art that is distasteful to the public, but does that mean that they should not smile at their own work, and realize that in time it may be better understood? This must have been something that Blake himself struggled with during his lifetime, as his poetry was not embraced by the public until much later in his career.Lines 19-20Did he smile his work to see?Did he who made the Lamb make thee?Finally, Blake gets down to business, and asks the fateful question. Did the same God who made the lamb also make the tiger? This makes all the more awesome the concept of God, if it is true.It suggests that God knows something that we human beings do not.
53 While the lamb’s creator is revealed, the tiger’s engineer remains undefined at the poem’s conclusion. However, given the link to Blake’s “The Lamb,” especially in the cryptic verse “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” it is highly likely that Blake is in fact referring to God. At the very least, the fact that the question is asked at all confirms the existence of a single, powerful, and awe inspiring creator, one who dares to produce both the tiger and the lamb.
54 then doesn’ t it serve to illuminate the shadows within ourselves, and out in the world? Finally, if this tiger, with its inner strength and prowess, serves as a guiding light through the darkness then doesn’ t our fear of it become rather shortsighted?*The forests of the poem have often been compared to the dark, industrial cities of Paris and LondonLines 21-22Tyger! Tyger! burning brightIn the forests of the night,Blake uses repetition to reinforce his ideas, and to ask us to take another look at the meaning. If the tiger is not only burning, but it is burning brightly, then isn’ t it a creature of light? If it is a creature of light, walking through the darkness,
55 This is a fearless immortal who made both the docile lamb, and the fiery tiger. To consider the creature, we are asked to consider the creator. In reflection, we must also look at the creativity in the microcosm of this world by the artist. It is significant that Blake chooses the word “dare” in the last line, instead of “could” because once again it emphasizes the concept of courage in relationship to creation. Finally, we must once again compare and contrast the beast with the tamed one, and consider the proper balance of nature framed by the hand of the Divine.Lines 23-24What immortal hand or eye,Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
56 Who made the “Tyger”If the tyger is associated with darkness and fire and is “fearful,” his creator is doubly so. Indeed, the speaker in “The Tyger” seems as “fearful” of the creator as he is of the “tyger.” But who is this creator? Through the technique of allusion, Blake associates the creator with a host of characters from Western mythology: Daedelus and Icarus(line 7), the daring Greek god Prometheus(line 8), Vulcan the blacksmith(lines 9-10 and 13-14), Lucifer and his angels(lines 17-18) and finally the God of the Old Testament(line 20). This creator seems to be both daring and foolhardy, creative and destructive, a craftsman, a creator, one who succeeds and one who invariably fails. Like the tyger, he seems to be simultaneously good and evil.
57 Themes1. Religion“The Tyger” was written to accompany Blake’s poem “The Lamb.” Both are creation poems, and together they explore the power and grandeur of God.The lamb is symbolic of Christ, the Son of God. It is natural to assume, therefore, that Blake’s awesome and “fearful” tiger might also be God’s creation. In many ways the tiger resembles Christ’s opposite, Lucifer (Satan).
58 2. Good and EvilBlake philosophically rejected socially accepted views of morality. His predilection toward exuberance and the imagination is intelligible in all of his works. Blake’s distinctive moral position is likewise evident in “The Tyger,” which is perhaps best understood when compared to his “The Lamb”: The meekness of Blake’s lamb makes his “fearful” and “deadly” tiger appear all the more horrific, but to conclude that one is decidedly good and the other evil would be incorrect. The innocent portrayal of childhood in “The Lamb,” though attractive, lacks imagination. The tiger, conversely, is repeatedly associated with fire or brightness, providing a sharp contrast against the dark forests from which it emerges — “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright / In the forests of the night.” While such brightness might symbolize violence, it can also imply insight, energy, and vitality.
59 Style“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.
60 Critical OverviewThe 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.”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.”
61 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.”4. Critic E. D. Hirsch has argued in the five years between 1789 and 1794, Blake witnessed the French revolution, riots in England, and increasing poverty and pain in London. His “Songs of Experience,” therefore, satirize the naivete of innocence; “The Tyger” is a disillusioned response to the naive illusions of “The Lamb.”
62 Contrast of The Lamp and The Tyger Symbol, the lamp: Jesus, innocence and good.Themes: innocence and the goodness of the creator who owns a source of kindness, altruism, and love.The TygerSymbols*the tiger: Satan, violence and evil;*“deeps”: hell* “skies”: heaven.Themes: religion, and good and evil.Creation is the common theme of the two poems.
63 The way their themes are achieved The Lamp· Nursery-rhyme· Rhetorical questioning followed by an immediate and simple answer· Word choices about the creator that calm and soothe - verbs of giving such as “made” and “gave”· The setting – a green vale, and where words such as “tender,” “meek” and “woolly” emphasize the Lamb’s gentle nature·The use of repetition and parallelismThe Tyger·Layers of rhetorical questioning and symbols.The word “what” is used over a dozen times. The text questions the creator, yet it does not ask “who?”, instead it asks “what?” This may be reflective of how inhumane the creation of the tiger first seems.·The rhetorical technique of guided questions leads to greater doubts regarding the goodness of the creator.
64 Style (meters and rhyme) The Lamp· Two stanzas, each containing five rhymed couplets.· Repetition in the first and last couplet of each stanza makes these lines into a refrain, and helps to give the poem its song-like quality.· Caesuras and end-stopped punctuations are used in the lines to vary the pace of a poem and to alleviate the "sing-song" effect of poems that utilize end-rhyme. The technique, therefore, reinforces the content or feeling that the poem is trying to communicate.The Tyger· The poem consists of six quatrains. (A quatrain is a four-line stanza.) Each quatrain contains two couplets.· Written in trochaic tetrameter with catalexis at the end of each line.The pattern results in a primitive “drum beat” that is apt for a tiger in a forest.)
65 A literary term: Trochaic tetrameter Tetrameter Line: a poetry line usually with eight syllables but sometimes seven.Trochaic Foot: A pair of syllables--a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable.Catalexis: The absence of a syllable in the final foot in a line. In Blake’s poem, an unstressed syllable is absent in the last foot of each line. Thus, every line has seven syllables, not the conventional eight.Trochaic tetrameter: It is a poetry line in which each line consists of eight or seven syllables, with each foot composed of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable.
66 Notice that *in The Tyger the fourth foot in each line eliminates the conventional unstressed syllable (catalexis). However, this irregularity in the trochaic pattern does not harm the rhythm of the poem. In fact, it may actually enhance it, allowing each line to end with an accented syllable that seems to mimic the beat of the maker’s hammer on the anvil.
67 SummaryBoth “The Tyger” and “The Lamb” are about creation, and both have an ending rhyme scheme that is much the same. They employ end rhymes; an obviously intentional parallel structure which helps readers link the two.The 2 contrary states of the human soul expressed in the anthology’s title (Innocence and Experience) are nicely personified in the ideas of these two animals – the Lamb and the Tyger. As a Biblical allusion, the idea goes well beyond the simple idea of the animals. The reader might well remember the “peaceable kingdom” and wonder if the lion can lie with the lamb?
68 When juxtaposed with the “The Lamb,” “The Tyger” counters the singular presentation of a good creator by accepting both the lamb and the tiger. It embraces these two attitudes at once, thus enlarging the idea of the creator. This creator has both the capacity for tenderness and dread.These two poems, when read, form an instant link in the reader’s mind. Apart from the reference in “The Tyger” to the Lamb, the common theme of creation and a creator run true, and lead us to our conclusions about the goodness of the creator mentioned.
69 Assignments Written work Define the term: Trochaic tertrametre What are the masterpieces by William Blake?What is the theme of The Lamb and what is that of The Tyger? What does the lamb symbolize?What are the symbols in The Tyger? What does they symbolize?In what way do the two poems, The Lamp and The Tyger achieve their themes?What is the relation of the lamb and the child to God?Topics for discussionWhat is the difference between the styles in The Lamb and in The TYger?What images are associated with the tiger? What made the tiger?Of what does the 4th stanza remind you?What do you think of the Spelling of the title “The Tyger”?Oral work: Memorizing The Lamp