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William Blake "The Tyger"

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McKenna Marshall

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of William Blake "The Tyger"

Quick Bio: William Blake was a 19th century writer and artist who was a very important figure of the Romantic period. His writings have influences many writers and artists that succeed him. He was a major poet of his time and his works are still being studied and read currently.
William Blake was born on November 28th, 1757, in the Soho district of London, England. Since Blake only attended school for a brief amount of time, the Bible greatly influenced Blake and his works. At and early age Blake began his artistic life as an engraver and drawer. Later one he was sent to Westminster Abbey to create drawings of tombs and monuments, where he began his lifelong love of gothic art. In his art he rejected many 18th century literary trends.
The Biography of William Blake
"The Tyger" by William Blake
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?
The poem begins with the speaker asking a fearsome tiger what kind of divine being could have created it. Each stanza after contains more questions. Blake compares the creator to a blacksmith, while he thinks about the anvil and the furnace that the project would have required and the smith who would have wielded them. At the end the speaker wonders how the creator felt when creating such a creature.
Biography Continued...
Blake had always claimed he had "visions" which would eventually help influence his writings. In 1782 Blake married Catherine Boucher, who was illiterate. Blake taught her how to read and write. Later in 1787 Blake's brother, Robert, died. Blake said he had a vision of Roberts spirit rising into heaven. This specific vision would greatly influence his poetry. Blake's first printed work, Poetical Sketches (1783) is a collection of apprentice verse. His most popular collection was Songs of Innocence (1789) and followed it with Songs of Experience (1794). Blake was a nonconformist who associated with some of the leading radical thinkers of his day, such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. In defiance of 18th-century neoclassical conventions, he privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions.
By: McKenna Marshall
and Kelly Baxter
William Blake "The Tyger"
He taught himself Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian, so that he could read classical works in their original language. He began experiencing profound spiritual insights that prepared him for his mature work, the great visionary epics written and etched between about 1804 and 1820. Milton (1804-08), Vala, or The Four Zoas (1797; rewritten after 1800), and Jerusalem (1804-20) have neither traditional plot, characters, rhyme, nor meter. They envision a new and higher kind of innocence, the human spirit triumphant over reason.
The opening question enacts what will be the single dramatic gesture of the poem, and each subsequent stanza elaborates on this conception. Blake is building on the conventional idea that nature, like a work of art, must in some way contain a reflection of its creator. The tiger initially appears as a strikingly sensuous image. However, as the poem progresses, it takes on a symbolic character, and comes to embody the spiritual and moral problem the poem explores: perfectly beautiful and yet perfectly destructive, Blake’s tiger becomes the symbolic center for an investigation into the presence of evil in the world. Since the tiger’s remarkable nature exists both in physical and moral terms, the speaker’s questions about its origin must also encompass both physical and moral dimensions
Form continued...
The smithy 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 from the first description of the tiger the imagery of fire with its simultaneous connotations of creation, purification, and destruction. In the third stanza, the parallelism of “shoulder” and “art,” as well as the fact that it is not just the body but also the “heart” of the tiger that is being forged. The repeated use of word the “dare” to replace the “could” of the first stanza introduces a dimension of aspiration and willfulness into the sheer might of the creative act.
The reference to the lamb in the penultimate stanza reminds the reader that a tiger and a lamb have been created by the same God, and raises questions about the implications of this. It also invites a contrast between the perspectives of “experience” and “innocence” represented here and in the poem “The Lamb.” The perspective of experience in this poem involves a sophisticated acknowledgment of what is unexplainable in the universe, presenting evil as the prime example of something that cannot be denied, but will not withstand facile explanation, either. The open awe of “The Tyger” contrasts with the easy confidence, in “The Lamb,” of a child’s innocent faith in a benevolent universe.
William Blake outlines the contradiction of beauty with destruction. Blake uses the tiger as an example of this irony in "The Tyger". He starts by posing the question of what sort of upper being; “Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” Blake forms a romantic theme with "The Tyger" through the idea that a Maker would create something so beautiful, but also, so violent and flawed. Blake provides a dream world for the reader. The scientific or reasonable ideas of the creatures around us get thrown out, and intuition and marvel replace them. Blake insinuates the moral dilemma of who could create such a destructive beast in contrast to the sweet disposition of "The Lamb". In a way, Blake questions the validity of this creator by pointing out the obvious flaw of violence in the creature.
The whole poem is addressed to the Tyger. Thus creating an apostrophe. The apostrophe helps the poet keep the subject alive and in-your-face, rather than talking about a bunch of generalities
The fire serves as an extended metaphor. Fire is also a source of energy, and since the Tyger seems to be filled with fire, then he must also be filled with energy. In another sense, the fire of the smith’s furnace is the fire of creation, the means by which the Tyger was formed.
Jeopardy Questions
1. What is the Tyger and what does it represent?
2. Who or what created the Tyger?
3. What questions are posed in the poem?
4. Was the Tyger created at all?
5. Why is this poem considered romantic?
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