Blake’s Tyger


Blake’s Tyger is a mystery that continues to challenge me. It is often said that The Tyger is the counterpart of The Lamb. The Lamb wanders freely. The Tyger is encased in questions. The Tyger is fire, burning bright, eyes of fire, even a daring hand may not seize the fire, which was forged in a furnace. With all these images of fire it seems important to explore the meaning of fire in the poem. Fire not only burns, it gives light, i.e., it enlightens, and lights the way. Fire as light discloses everything as it is and where it is. Fire thus locates everything that is. What is the origin of this light-locating being? The poet questions whether fire is the handiwork and the vision of an Unknown Immortal. Fire belongs to what is Immortal as its handiwork. Fire is an instrument that does the bidding of the Unknown Immortal that not only could, but dared “frame thy fearful symmetry.” The poet tells The Lamb who made it while the maker of The Tyger remains a question. Does the poet dare name the maker of The Tyger? Is the fearful symmetry such a deadly terror (quatrain four) that it must remain unnamed lest in the naming it come to presence and disclose to the human that human nature continues to be chaotic, a fearful symmetry itself? Perhaps the poet intends The Tyger, chaotic humanity, the fearful symmetry, as the otherness of The Lamb. “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” On this even The Lamb is silent! I wonder if Borges’ The Other Tiger is not even more fearful? He says “yet still I keep on looking throughout the evening for the other tiger, the other tiger, the one not in this poem.” Blake restrains his Tyger with questions. Borges cannot contain his tiger with words. He does not dare to name his tiger and let it loose upon the world. When The Lamb emerges from silence as the Light of the world then will we know that The Tyger that is humanity dwells in the hope of each newborn waiting to utter its first Word and let dawn the new creation once more.

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