The first step in completing this assignment is to read each poem carefully several times and take some notes on the way the supernatural is described and how the poet or speaker seems to draw strength from the supernatural. Let's do some brainstorming to get started.
In his poem “The Tyger,” William Blake's speaker marvels at the “immortal hand” and eye that can frame the “fearful symmetry” of this beast. He is aware of the power of the God, Who made the fire shine from the tiger's eyes. He wonders at the divine hands that twisted the sinews of the tiger's heart and set burning the furnace of the animal's brain. Blake's speaker then questions whether God smiled when He saw the tiger, whether He was pleased with His handiwork after creating this fearsome beast.
Blake is focusing primarily on the power and transcendence of God. He is almighty, so much higher than even this fearsome creature He has brought to life. He is also mysterious, for the tiger seems like a monster, yet it, too, possesses a strange beauty because it is God's creature. God made the innocent lamb, and it is thus beyond human comprehension to figure out God's motives in creating both lamb and tiger. Blake's poem suggests that one must be satisfied with the mystery, standing in awe of God's power and creativity, as they are are reflected in His creation.
In “Ode to a Nightingale,” John Keats also focuses on the supernatural, describing how he meets it through the natural world. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker is dull and numb. His “heart aches,” and his brain feels dim and sluggish. Then he hears the nightingale sing, and he is transformed. Almost supernaturally, he is transported into another world. Through the bird's song, he experiences everything from a “country green” to a “forest dim.” He is carried away from the pains of everyday life, from the “weariness, the fever, and the fret,” and he encounters intimations of "Beauty" and "Love."
In the nightingale's song, the speaker also recalls other supernatural beings, like Bacchus and his leopards and the Queen-Moon and her “starry Fays.” Again, he is taken out of himself and into a different world, a world filled with beauty. He wishes at the end of the poem to pour forth his soul in ecstasy while hearing the nightingale sing. Perhaps the central supernatural aspect of the nightingale is that it represents immortality: "Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!" The speaker wishes to go beyond the material world into the realm of eternity, as symbolized by the eponymous bird, but ultimately feels limited by his mortal condition.
When the brainstorming process is complete, move on to developing a thesis statement, an arguable claim that can be supported with evidence from the two poems. One possible thesis might consider how Blake and Keats focus on glimpsing the supernatural through the created world, albeit in two vastly different ways. Another possible thesis might focus on the contrasts between the two creatures at the center of the poems and the different ways in which they point to the supernatural. Evidence to support the thesis will come from the close reading of both poems accomplished in the brainstorming session as well, as further reading and reflection.