Essay about Practical Criticism: The Tyger William Blake

Essay about Practical Criticism: The Tyger William Blake

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Practical Criticism: The Tyger William Blake

Blake's poem "The Tyger" - written somewhere between 1785 and 1789 -
was first published in Songs of Innocence and Experience. These two
interconnected books of poetry were intended to show the "two contrary
states of the human soul. Appropriately enough "The Tyger" appeared in
the second book, Experience, and has as its natural counter part "The
Lamb" in Innocence. "The Tyger" as a poem is a perennial international
favourite. It has been more frequently and widely published than any
other poem in English.

The diction and rhyme scheme of both poems suggest they were written
for children which is ostensibly the intended audience for the Songs.
However the choice of words and cadence works on far deeper levels
than just creating a palatable nursery-rhyme rhythm for children. The
lively trochaic metre, aswell as suggesting a nursery rhyme, could be
likened to a chant or invocation. The repetition of "Tyger! Tyger!"
with its double exclamation marks support this idea. It gives the
whole poem a quasi-religious tone which is maintained - albeit
ambiguously - throughout the poem. Simultaneously the exclaimed
repetition of "Tyger! Tyger!" could be seen as an awed whisper, a
terrified cry or an oath of some kind. The immediate stressed
syllables at the start of the foot (Ty - ger! Ty - ger!) introduce an
element of panic or of rapt, awestruck wonder. As if the narrator (and
the reader) are placed directly before the tiger wrapped in its coat
of flame.

The use of the words "Burning bright" emphasise the otherworldly
nature of Blake's particular Tyger. The imagery is vivid, immediate
and memorable. It suggests blazing colour (stark contrast to the
verdure "..forest...


... middle of paper ...


...edonistic urge to be free and follow ones productive
animal instincts.

This partially tallies with the popular psychoanalytic reading of the
poem: the tyger is the ultimate embodiment of the Id liberated from
the command of the Urizen the ultra-rational superego. The sexual
implications inherent in a psychoanalytic reading - although present
within the symbol, mystery, potency, and (lustful?) heat of the Tyger
and within the pubertal development of childhood lamb to predatory
tiger -unfortunately have no space within the 1,500 words allowed
here.

[1] In fact Blake excised the too emotionally loaded word "cruel" from
his initial draft of the poem, probably to maintain the readers
objectivity. I think the intimations of the word did not fit easily
with the meanings of the poem whereas "dread", "fearful" etc. were
valid in their context.

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