Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tyger, Tyger


middlestage.blogspot.com
William Blake (1757-1827) was one of the many writers whose work wasn't appreciated until after his death. Finally, his poetry was recognized as having brilliance it deserved.

Of all his writing, The Tyger (it became known as "Jerusalem") is the one that people say "Oh, yeah. I know/heard of that one."  The opening line is probably one among much literature whose opening line can always be recognized by any familiar with literature.***


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

What the hammer? What the chain. 
In what furnace was thy brain?
Where 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 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?

Now, I am positive that not all readers got to the end of the poem. Heck, the first time I picked it up, I didn't made it through past first two quatrains. Language is complicated, vocabulary are strenuous. Blake asked questions, passionate and thoughtful questions.  


Answering any of those challenged my little gray cells.

 ***Of course, "Call Me Ishmael" .

William Blake rises large and high, way up there.

 Blake in a portrait by Thomas Phillips (1807)
en.Wikipedia.org

Alright. WB Yeats, Robert Frost...those and other poets are way up there with their words.


31 comments:

  1. I really need to read Blake in some detail. Though I had heard the first line many times, I think that this is the first time that I read through this. Thanks for posting it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've always loved that poem. But you have to work through it, can't race!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took some analysis for me, looking at each question.

      Delete
  3. It took a few tries but we got through it all, twas good.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the art and poetry of William Blake. The man was 200 years before his time in themes and insights. However, "Jerusalem" is an entirely different poem by him, not just another name for "The Tyger." "Jerusalem" has the famous line in it about "chariot of fire" which was used as that movie title about 40 years ago. The musical version of "Jerusalem" is often called the unofficial national anthem of the UK.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Funnily enough, that very poem was the lesson for an English class at the continuation high school TODAY. Alas, I was not covering the class. (The teacher was out two days. I covered her class yesterday, but I had already been scheduled to be elsewhere today. However, I did take a peek at today's plan, just because I'm nosy that way.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Serendipity! Elephant's Child and I have that psychic bond! And now you!

      Delete
  6. That shows you how much language has changed. But there's still enough for the one who reads it to understand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is convoluted, language from another era.

      Delete
  7. So many artists, regardless of genre, go through life unappreciated. Which makes my heart ache.
    Someone (Rumi?) said that poetry is the language of the heart. Which makes sense to me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "language is complicated, vocabulary are strenuous" and to me confusing. This is why I don't like poetry.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I knew the first two lines! I'm not a poetry person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still remember only the first 2 lines! I just like what he says.

      Delete
  10. Hi Susan - I went to see his exhibition at the Tate in London recently ... so I've seen the original! I'll be doing a post anon ... and if my brain is in gear - will link back here ... cheers Hilary (don't ask me when! - but I'll get the post up.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In London no less! I will see you when I see you.

      Delete
  11. I always felt there was something about this poem that made me curious to find out where it was going, what was the meaning, what did he want to say and how would it end. I find it very special, thanks for sharing it here,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tyger Tyger does confuse and made me wonder about the meaning he intended.

      Delete
  12. William Blake is not a favourite, neither his poems nor his paintings. Too much drama, too much hidden. I know, my poetry friends don’t understand me either.
    They find my preferences quite baffling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you. My fav. poets have depth in them, just with accessible meaning.

      Delete
  13. I've never read that poem before. It's a nice poem though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blake lived in a time of revolutions, European uproars. That must have been a part of his poetry.

      Delete
  14. I only remember this, somewhat modified, in a Spider-Man comic...

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's one i do enjoy reading, although i cannot answer all that he asks, it's good to contemplate.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Do you know!
    It was good to read this today … I only ever remember the first two lines.
    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!