Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday poetry - William Blake

This has always been one of my favourite poems. And, of course, it's one of the most famous poems in the English language. William Blake (picture from here) was a poet, a mystic, an artist & printer. His poetry can seem simple & repetitive but there's always so much going on in his imagination that his simplicity hides a great depth of meaning & infinte interpretation. I love the language of The Tyger. His fearful symmetry, the imagery of the tyger being forged like steel in a furnace. All those questions, can we ever understand the marvels of nature, whoever or whatever created them? I just read it for the hundredth time & wonder.

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?
In 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 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?


  1. I remember reading this to a Year 6 class and their excitement when they realised that there was just that one word changed in the last stanza and the force that it had. One of best moments in teaching!

  2. I've always loved Auguries of Innocence.

    To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And eternity in an hour.

    Love your blog, by the way!
    - Frances

  3. Annie, that must be one of the best things about teaching, seeing the children understand something for the first time. Thank you Frances! That is a lovely poem. It says so much so simply. That's what I love about Blake.