William Blake (1757 – 1827)


One of the major romantic poets, whose verse & outwork became a part of a wider movement we call romanticism. W. Blake was an artist, an engraver& a poet. He was one of the most prominent writers in English culture.

His writing combines a variety of style. He’s an artist, a lyric poet a mystic, a visionary & his works had an inspiration on many poets of & bewildered readers ever since. For the 19th century reader he imposed one question. Blake could be difficult at times. His vision is very much different from the vision of an ordinary person. His works are multilevel. His desire was to create a philosophical system. His works range from deceptively simple & lyrical style of “Songs of innocence” & “Songs of experience” to the most sophisticated in “The Marriage of Heaven & Hell” & “The Book of Urizen”.


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 watered 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?”


It describes the terror & beauty of one of God’s creations. Who can create such a fearful creation? Who possesses fierce strength? The gentleness of the lamb & the fierceness of the tiger are reconciled by God. The illustration of the biblical fact that the lamb 7 the lion will live peacefully.

First we see these evil eyes of the tiger that burn in the nigh. They are fury & can’t be tamed. Then comes the idea of some elaborative work that has been done to create such a creature & the insistence of Blake questioning “What for? Why?” This makes us think that God could not do this. The theme is seemingly commonplace & simple, but it focuses on a deep & sharp psychological content. It’s an endless philosophical discussion. The tiger symbolizes the qualities of the human being. The author contrasts gentleness & aggressiveness of our spirit.

We come to the level of passions we can speak of this verse as representing roth passions& fears. It’s the idea of being vulnerable & at the same time unbending (ability to forgive & forget). We associate tiger & lamb with our potential feelings & attitudes that are stimulated by the language of the poem.

The poem though seems simple on the surface becomes more complex when viewed on different levels. It would be bad mistake to ignore.

Blake’s short poems are much better than his long books. His poems rely upon the reader’s response, their bitter communication. They rely upon the human experience & for the most part it’s the inner experience of the human being. Blake is wrestling with the moral & psychological problems of people. They are regarded as symbols. The main problem Blake tries to solve is the problem of tyranny – of God, of the father of the family, of time, of society etc.


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