Analysis and commentary of The Tyger by William Blake
The Tyger belongs to Songs of Experience which was written by William Blake. The Romantic poet published his collection of poems himself in London, in 1794. The poet came up with a technique called ‘relief etching’ to be able to add his illustrations.
The poem contains six quatrains; and its rhyme is assonant, and follows perfectly the pattern aabb due to, in the case of the first and the sixth stanzas, the word ‘symmetry’ is pronounced in such a way that it rhymes with ‘eye’.
With regard to the semantic fields, there are words related to the tools used by an ironsmith like, for instance, ‘hammer’, ‘chain’, ‘furnace’, and ‘anvil’, in the fourth stanza. Also, we can find a semantic field related to Nature like, for example, ‘forests’ (line 2), ‘skies’ (line 5), ‘Tyger’ (lines 1 and 21), and ‘Lamb’ (line 20). But, above all, the poet used a semantic field related to Creation when he writes words or phases like:
‘What immortal hand and eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?’
The simple structure and the vocabulary help the reader to understand the main topics or concepts, which are Evil, Good, and God.
The first impression that William Blake gives is that he sees a terrible tiger in the night, and, as a result of his state of panic, the poet exaggerates the description of the animal when he writes:
‘Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night…’
However, paying more attention to what comes next, the author talks about Evil, and Good, as I said above. These two essential ideas are symbolised in the ‘Tyger’ and the ‘Lamb’, respectively (notice that both words have capital letters).
Immediately after seeing the ‘Tyger’ in the forests, the poet asks it what deity could have created it:
‘What immortal hand and eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?’
The word ‘immortal’ gives the reader a clue that the poet refers to God. Then, in the second stanza, the author wonders in what far-away places the tiger was made, maybe, referring that these places cannot be reached by any mortal. In the third stanza, the poet asks again, once the tiger’s heart began to beat, who could make such a frightening and evil animal. Next, in the forth stanza, William Blake asks questions about the tools used by God. And he names the hammer, the chain, the furnace, and anvil. All these elements are used by an ironsmith. Thus, according to the poet, God is a kind of craftsman. After that, in the fifth stanza, the poet asks two significant questions. The first one refers to God’s feelings:
‘Did he smile his work to see?’
In other words, was God happy with his creation? The second question is:
‘Did he who made the Lamb make thee?’
William Blake does not understand why or how the deity who is responsible for good and innocence, is, at he same time, the same who inserts violence and evil in this world. However, the poet does not make any statement at any moment. He only asks questions which invite the reader to think about. Finally, the last stanza is the same as the first one which may indicate that the author is not able to understand the world where we live.
To conclude, in my opinion, William Blake wrote the poem with a simple structure and a perfect rhyme to help the reader see the images he wanted to transmit. Above all, the description of the tiger is glaringly graphic due to essentially the contrast between fire and night.
Erika Giselle Wilson Cantariño