Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Could to Dare: The Underlying Transition in Blake’s The Tyger College

In his iconic poem The Tyger, William Blake directly addresses the paradoxically beautiful yet horrific figure with a question: What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? This simple question, wondering how and what divine being could possibly create such a creature, serves as a platform for William Blake to examine ideas of divine creation, the relationship between nature and art, how creation reflects upon the creator, and the existence of creatures in nature that are somehow simultaneously beautiful yet utterly destructive. Through these many questions, a deeper transition arises within the poem, by the last line, we find ourselves wonder not just how God could create a creature like the tiger, but how dare he? This transition is not highlighted right away right away—The Tyger is a poem that takes at least two readings, if not more, to be able to grasp what Blake is trying to get at. The aim of this essay, then, is not just to interpret “The Tyger,” but also to demonstrate how the poem unfolds as a process, and how to assess how understanding that process transforms its ultimate meaning.

The Tyger begins by emphasizing the speaker’s direct address to the tiger, through the resounding repetition of “Tyger!...

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