A Critical Appreciation of the Poem “The Tyger” by William Blake
The poem “The Tyger” is the masterpiece of William Blake’s poetry. It is a poem of six four-line stanzas. The poem illustrates Blake’s excellence in craftsmanship and descriptive skill. This poem is a fine specimen of Blake’s command over the production of musical notes. Each poem of Blake is described to be ‘a jewel casket beautiful in itself’. The poem “The Tyger” is a magnificent example of his lyricism. In each line’ there is rhythm creating enchanting music.
“The Tyger” is a contrast to the lamb of “Songs of Innocence”. The forceful eloquence of “The Tyger” is an antitype to the sweet hymn of the tender infantile sentiment of the lyric, “The Lamb”. It is an ‘enraptured song’ conveying an essential vision of some themes which Blake presents elsewhere in more detail. The wonder of the poet is conveyed by the short and successive questions. Some of the questions have not been answered. They are left incomplete as if the poet’s awe and admiration were too great to allow him to complete them.
‘The Tyger’ is the symbol of the fierce forces of the soul. These forces as the poet thinks are needed to break the bonds of experience. He says that the breath of the lion is the wisdom of God. In the poem, we can see the reference both to the Tiger and the Lamb. Both of these creatures are the two aspects of the same soul. The soul is none but God. The lamb represents the meekness, simplicity, and innocence of the soul while the Tiger stands for the wrath and harsher side. In the person of Christ, these two aspects of the soul are found. The speaker of the poem believes that Christ does not have one face but several faces. The tiger is also thought to symbolize the ‘abundant life’ which Jesus Christ brought to life. So it stands for regeneration and energy.
The poet wonders how God can create such a terrible creature. He asks if the tiger has been created by the same hand that has created the lamb. So he thinks that the tiger is not created in this world but somewhere in the skies or in the ‘distant deeps’. The poet wonders how the creator dared to fetch the fire for the eyes of the tiger. The poet wonders at the handiwork of God who, like a blacksmith, sets to work on his most amazing creation. The poet fails to understand why God has created such a fearful creation. The creation of such an animal must have required a prodigious apparatus, otherwise, the muscles of the tiger’s heart or the deadly terror of the tiger’s brain would not have been created. The anvil, the furnace, the chains and the hammers must have all been wonderful. Even the stars, the first creations of God were overtaken by grief and horror when they beheld the new creation.
In the poem, there is confusion as to the question that who has created the tiger. The process of creation has been conveyed in the words and phrases which, although meaningful in their totality, do not yield any clear elucidation of the creator. As in other poems, Jesus Christ has been conceived of being God and at the same time, a prophet, Blake has not made it clear here. It may not be God but an unknown, supernatural spirit like Blake’s mythical heroes, who have fashioned the tiger.
But the crux of the poem has been put in the stanza when the stanza threw down their spears: “Did he who made the lamb make thee?” These lines appear to be very puzzling. We can arrive at no conclusion. It may be interpreted that wrath and mercy unite at the same point where the ultimate reality of God is felt.