The Tyger, by William Blake
Text analysis – Language and meaning
The Tyger is often associated with The Lamb. The spelling of its title is written in Blake’s original spelling. Its powerful imagery, stress and rythm make it one of the most famous of Blake’s poems.
The words referring to the tiger are burning bright (line 1); fearful symmetry (line 4); fire of thine eyes (line 6); sinews of thy heart (line 10); brain (line 14); deadly terrors (line 16).
Blake’s description of the tiger is not realistic, but symbolical. If you have a closer look at the poem, you find there are no references to the external appearance of the animal, for example to its striped skin.
- Burning implies fire, fierceness, energy;
- fearful symmetry means that the tiger is beautiful but also frightening at the same time;
- fire refers to the energy, vitality and power of the animal;
- deadly terrors suggests a feeling of mystery arousing fear.
The expression “fearful symmetry” can be linked to the idea of the Sublime because it implies the concept of “horrible beauty”. In other words, the expression refers to the great in nature that arouses feelings of astonishment, admiration, reverence and respect.
In opposition to the “brightness” connected with the tiger, Blake mentions “the forests of the night”. This metaphor refers to the confusion, mess and chaos that characterise the Universe before Creation.