The Tyger William Blake Poem Analysis Essays


In this counterpart poem to “The Lamb” in Songs of Innocence, Blake offers another view of God through His creation. Whereas the lamb implied God’s tenderness and mercy, the tiger suggests His ferocity and power. The speaker again asks questions of the subject: “What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” The questions continue throughout the poem, with the answers implied in the final question that is not a repetition of an earlier question: “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” The same God who made the gentle, obedient lamb also made the frightening, powerful, and bloody-minded tiger, and whereas the lamb was simply “made,” the tiger is forged: “What the hammer? what the chain?/ In what furnace was thy brain?”


The use of smithing imagery for the creation of the tiger hearkens to Blake’s own oft-written contrast between the natural world and the industrialism of the London of his day. While the creator is still God, the means of creation for so dangerous a creature is mechanical rather than natural. Technology may be a benefit to mankind in many ways, but within it still holds deadly potential.

In form and content, "The Tyger" also parallels the Biblical book of Job. Job, too, was confronted by the sheer awe and power of God, who asks the suffering man a similar series of rhetorical questions designed to lead Job not to an answer, but to an understanding of the limitations inherent in human wisdom. This limitation is forced into view by the final paradox: "Did he who made the Lamb make thee?" Can the God of Innocence also be the God of Experience? If so, how can mere mortals, trapped in one state or the other, ever hope to understand this God?

"The Tyger" follows an AABB rhyme scheme throughout, but with the somewhat problematic first and last stanzas rhyming "eye" with "symmetry." This jarring near rhyme puts the reader in an uneasy spot from the beginning and returns him to it at the end, thus foreshadowing and concluding the experience of reading "The Tyger" as one of discomfort.

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William Blake, one of the infamous English romantic poets, is most known for his romantic views on conventional scenes and objects, which were presented in his works The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience. The first collection was published in 1789, and addresses subjects such as suffering and death from the innocent and optimistic perspective of a child. The later collection addresses these same issues, but is told from the perspective of an experienced bard. The poems contained in The Songs of Innocence often have a counter part in the second collection that reflects a darker or more corrupted take on the same subject. For example, the purity presented in the creation of “The Lamb” is dramatically contrasted with its…show more content…

“The Tyger” consists entirely of unanswered questions, which are used to leave the reader in awe of intricacy of creation, the limitless strength of God’s power, and the incomprehensibility of his choices. The sense of doubt in this poem involves an acknowledgement of what is unexplainable in the universe, as Blake presents the tiger’s violent nature as the prime example of something that cannot be denied, but can not be easily dismissed, either. The curiosity and awe of the author presented in “The Tyger” juxtaposes with the easy certainty of a child’s faith “The Lamb”. Blake asks these rhetorical questions to his readers in hopes encouraging them to question the pure and innocent side of creation they have come to know and join him in trying to understand why God would create something violent and destructive as well as something beautiful and innocent like the lamb.
The blacksmith referenced in The Tyger represents a traditional image of artistic creation; here Blake applies it to the divine creation of the natural world. The “forging” of the tiger suggests a very physical, laborious, and deliberate kind of making; it emphasizes the awesome physical presence of the tiger and precludes the idea that such a creation could have been in any way accidentally or haphazardly produced. It also continues

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