The Tiger

by William Blake   1794

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

[Suggested by Kung Fu Zu] __________________________________________________
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3 Responses to The Tiger

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    This is undoubtedly Blake’s most famous poem, though I will note that in the original spelling it would be “The Tyger” (my senior English text included a photo of his illustrated version of this and a few others). The TV series Dr. Kildare once did an episode inspired somewhat by the poem (and mentioning it, probably the first time I ever heard of it), and using the original spelling.

    • Kung Fu Zu says:

      This was written in the late 18th century some 30 years before Raffles and Davy established the first zoo in the world. One can just imagine the mystery surrounding Tygers in those days.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I hadn’t known that about zoos; that does make an interesting point, especially since tigers are Asian predators and the number of Europeans familiar with them was probably very small at the time.

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