The Tyger

In: English and Literature

Submitted By skillzee
Words 1542
Pages 7
As an online William Blake fan, I receive at least one request per month from students asked to interpret William Blake's wonderful lyric, "The Tyger."

The contrast with "The Lamb" is obvious. ("Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?" The answer is God, who became incarnate as Jesus the Lamb.) "The Tyger" asks, "Did he who made the Lamb make thee?" And the answer is, "Yes, God made the Tyger too."

To understand "The Tyger" fully, you need to know Blake's symbols. One of the central themes in his major works is that of the Creator as a blacksmith. This is both God the Creator (personified in Blake's myth as Los) and Blake himself (again with Los as his alter-ego.) Blake identified God's creative process with the work of an artist. And it is art that brings creation to its fulfillment -- by showing the world as it is, by sharpening perception, by giving form to ideas.

Blake's story of creation differs from the Genesis account. The familiar world was created only after a cosmic catastrophe. When the life of the spirit was reduced to a sea of atoms, the Creator set a limit below which it could not deteriorate farther, and began creating the world of nature. The longer books that Blake wrote describe Los's creation of animals and people within the world of nature. One particularly powerful passage in "Milton" describes Los's family weaving the bodies of each unborn child.

In believing that creation followed a cosmic catastrophe and a fall of spiritual beings into matter, Blake recalls Gnosticism, a multi-faceted religious movement that has run parallel to mainstream Christianity. Unlike most other Gnosticizers, Blake considered our own world to be a fine and wonderful place, but one that would ultimately give way to a restored universe. Blake believed that his own visions, which included end-of-the- world images and sometimes a sense of…...

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