Lines 1-4: The poem ‘The Tyger’ begins with the speaker expressing his awe on seeing the tiger. Here Blake's spelling of ‘Tyger’ seems to emphasize the symbolic quality of the animal . He uses ‘tyger’ instead of tiger may be to refer to any kind of wild, ferocious cat.
The speaker says that the tiger is burning bright in the forests of the night. The phrase 'burning bright' may have several different meanings. Firstly, we may think of the two burning eyes of the tiger in the darkness. Secondly, the phrase itself makes the whole tiger a symbol burning qualities - wrath, passion and ardour. Again it may reflect the tiger's yellow colour with black stripes as it roams freely in the night forest.
‘What - symmetry?’ →Seeing the beautiful tiger working in the noctural forest, the speaker wonders what immortal hand or eye has framed the tiger's body.
The phrase ‘fearful symmetry’ refers to perfectly - proportioned shape or form of the tiger which has endowed it with a fearful look. The concept of symmetry would not normally be frightening. When Blake adds the adjective fearful to symmetry, he suggests something that doesn't fit and that can't be explained. In other words , he questions the creation of evil by God when God is supposed to create only beauty and perfection.
Lines 5-8: The speaker again concentrates on the tiger's eyes. He says that when those eyes spark, it looks like fire raging within them. He wonders from which distance the fire has been brought for the eyes of the tiger. The fire has been brought either from the skies or from the depth of oceans. It means it has come either from heaven or from hell. Actually, it is not an ordinary fire of the world . It is a kind of divine one which is needed for the tiger's eyes to make it so fierce.
“On what the fire?” The speaker queries who designed the dreadful tiger . He wonders which were those wings that took him to those distant areas. Here, the poet depicts the creator as a majestic human figure hovering in the air . The speake leo wonders which hands dares to catch that divine fire. ‘Seize the fire’ presumably refers to of Prometheus who stole the fire from heaven for the use of mankind. So, in the second, the speaker enquiries in what oceans beneath or skies above, the creator soared to obtain the fire needed for the tiger's eye6, and whose hand dared to seize that dangerous fire.
Lines 9-12: This stanza continues in different terms the same question- who created the tiger? Seeing the dreadful but well proportioned body of the tiger, the speaker wonders at the courage, strength and skill of the creator who fashioned the tiger. Here, 'Shoulder' roughly means what kind of bodily strength could create the tiger. And art refers to the skill that could put the tiger all together.
The speaker ponders on what efforts or skills are required to form the muscles of the tiger's heart. Why heart? May be the speaker believes that the strong passion and vigour of the tiger is the result of a strong muscular heart inside.
So, our speaker feels that the act of creation is certainly a piece of manual labour on part of the creator. He thus praises the tiger's muscular strength as well as the amazing power of the creator. “And when - feet?”→ When the tiger's heart was created, it began to beat.
The speaker is amazed by the thought that how powerful the creator's hand and feet are which made him stand in front of the tiger when its heart started the beat. He is talking about the creator's during nature. He wonders at the powerful maker's hands and feet in order not to be intimidated by the living beast.
Lines 13-16: We move from the purely human energy of stanza three into the industrial society that Blake and his artistic contemporaries were so aware of during their lifetimes. New technology and factory production, together with the birth of capitalism and worker exploitation were very much in evidence. Is Blake here foreseeing the horrors of mass production and the end of the old ways, life on the land, centuries in the making? The new revolutionary force is made up of the mob and worker, specifically elements related to the creation of steel ..... hammer, chain , furnace, anvil ..... metonymy for industry.
Lines 17-20: Vivid imagery, which has its inspiration from ‘Paradise Lost’ again? The angelic war which tore apart heaven and hell was in some minds all God's doing, the omnipotent one. Joy turns to tears how could innocence and raw destruction. Lamb and tiger, come from the same source? That divine smile is perhaps not a benevolent one?
Lines 21-24: A repeat of the first with the exception of the last line, a subtle yet telling change of a single word ..... could to dare. To dare implies a certain danger potentially, holds a warning that if the symmetry is framed (held /kept inside boundaries) there could be a helluva price to pay. Here ends a short poem, full of questions, symbolism and imagery, ostensible about an exotic animal but holding so much awe.
The Tyger Short summary
‘The Tyger’ is written by William Blake. The tiger is a fearful creature with a lovely shape. In the forests at night its eyes born brightly like balls of fire, the poet wonders to know who framed the tiger's body, fearfull but well - proportioned. The creator of the tiger must have gone to distant volcanic deeps or skies in order to fetch needful fire for its eyes. He must have to take great physical labour and much time in forming the muscles of the tiger's heart. And when tiger became a living reality, his paws and legs appeared dreadful.
In the poem, the poet depicts that the creator also must have used the huge hammer, anvil and chain in forming its symmetry. He displayed great skill and courage while creating the tiger. The angles were so amazed to see the creation of the tiger that they threw down their spears and wept. The poet wonders if God smiled with satisfaction to his new creation (e. tiger). He cannot make out how God who created the meek and innocent lamb also created the ferocious tiger.