Can we call "The Tyger" a romantic poem?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Tyger" is an example of Romantic poetry. It was published by William Blake in 1794 during the Romantic Period of British literature, generally considered 1785 - 1830. Three qualities of Romanticism displayed in the poem are strong senses, emotions, and feelings; awe of nature; and the importance of imagination.

"The Tyger" appeals to the senses and is a very emotional poem. References to fire, hammer, anvil, chain, sinews, and furnace create rich visual imagery. Passages such as  "In what distant deeps or skies/ Burnt the fire of thine eyes?" and "When the stars threw down their spears" are quite evocative. The series of rhetorical questions produces emotions such as awe, fear, and doubt. Phrases such as "dare its deadly terrors clasp" and "water'd heaven with their tears" reflect strong feelings in the writer that are duplicated in the reader.

Since the poem examines a living creature in hyperbolic terms, it shows great awe of nature. The tiger seems to take on mythical proportions as the poet questions what kind of Supreme Being could have formed so fierce an animal. 

The poem is also highly imaginative. Rather than just seeing a tiger as a natural phenomenon to be studied scientifically, the poem imagines the power and motivation behind the creative force that produced it. The poem uses metaphor and analogy to compare the forming of the living creature to blacksmithing in some heavenly forge. The poet attributes a heart with twisted sinews beating within the tiger. The advent of the tiger on earth is accompanied by crying stars throwing down their spears. 

Because it displays strong senses and emotions, an awe of nature, and powerful imagination, "The Tyger" can be classified as a Romantic poem.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is worthy of note that the third principal poet of the earliest phase of the Romantic movement in England was William Blake. Certainly, then, Blake's poem entitled "The Tyger" can be considered a Romantic poem. This poem explodes with the imagination, emotion, lyricism, and spiritual vision that characterized the Romantic movement. 

As Blake addresses the tiger, he alludes to God and the supernatural. 

What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

Further, Blake personifies the animal and addresses it as though it were a creature of more than the natural world.

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

Throughout the verses, the poet makes references to nature—references that are characteristic of Romantic literature. Such references to nature are those that mention the skies, the stars, night, heaven, water, fire, and the forests.

This poem's exuberance, lyricism, musical verse, and interest in the mysterious make it an excellent example of Romantic poetry.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Tyger" is clearly an example of English Romanticism; several elements of the Romantic literary movement are found in the poem: the exploration of nature and the emphasis upon beauty, mystery, and a supernatural or divine presence. The tiger in Blake's poem is a creature of the natural world; it is fierce yet quite beautiful, "burning bright." It inspires a sense of awe in the poet. The central mystery in the poem is the origin of the tiger--more precisely, the identity and the nature of the divine being that created it. Did the same loving God who created the gentle lamb also create the fierce, cruel, powerful tiger? And if so, why? Thus "The Tyger" seeks to know and understand the mysterious workings of God, an important Romantic theme in literature. For the poet to consider such spiritual mysteries is also suggestive of Romanticism, which explores the inner life of the self rather than man's role in society.