“The Tyger” is one of the most famous poems by Blake from his Songs of Experience. It forms a parallel to “The Lamb” from Songs of Innocence . Copious interpretations of “The Tyger” reflect a complexity of its central image. Most scholars concur that the tiger personifies the...
“The Tyger” is one of the most famous poems by Blake from his Songs of Experience. It forms a parallel to “The Lamb” from Songs of Innocence. Copious interpretations of “The Tyger” reflect a complexity of its central image. Most scholars concur that the tiger personifies the rage of destruction.
Just as “The Lamb,” “The Tyger” opens with a question about the one who created him. In the earlier poem, the answer is obvious. “The Tyger”, on the other hand, represents a chain of questions that are left unanswered.
In Songs of Innocence, ferocious beasts epitomize the force inimical to the Lamb, hence, to God. Here, however, Blake edits his perception by showing unalloyed fascination with the tiger’s sinister beauty. Who created the tiger? “In what distant deeps or skies burnt the fire of thine eyes?” Is this a heavenly or an infernal fire? This is the main question of the poem.
Blake does not give a direct answer to it. But the logic of the poem may bring the reader to the idea that this wonderful beast was created by some entity other than God. Maybe, the devil himself. The question of the first stanza has the verb could, “What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?” The last stanza, repeating the same question, employs the verb dare instead. Obviously, the shift is from the idea of power and ability to that of challenge and defiance.
The tiger, though he may be a creation of the infernal power, elicits not only fear but also fascination with his “fearful symmetry.” He is not bad in the banal sense of the word. Rather, he encapsulates the amazing energy that moves everything in Blake’s cosmos. So this poem becomes an illustration of the theological theme which later becomes known as theodicy, a vindication of God’s goodness in view of the presence of evil in the universe.