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Tyger Tyger, Burning Bright!

Tyger Tyger, Burning Bright!

William Blake was a poet and an artist. He was one of the first in Britain (or anywhere else in Europe) to see a tiger in person when he saw one in London.

As an artist he surely sized up the animal with a eye toward proportion and anatomy. How would I draw this beast?

Perhaps in trying to understand the animal in physical terms, he went further, breaking down the ferocity the animal presented to a discourse on why the universe would design such a violent creature. .

Blake and his tiger have been in discussion since he wrote his poem three hundred years ago. There’s a good article here:

There’s a good reading at the bottom of this post.

The Tyger

William Blake (1757–1827)

Tyger Tyger, 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, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & 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?

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

Illustration source: The British Museum

“The Tyger” by William Blake. Read by Dame Helen Mirren.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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