The Tyger


“The Tyger” Ana Melching
5-8-99
Does god create both gentle and fearful creatures? If he does

what right does he have? Both of these rhetorical questions are

asked by William Blake in his poem “The Tyger.” The poem takes

the reader on a journey of faith, questioning god and his nature. The poem

completes a cycle of questioning the creator of the tyger, discussing how it

could have been created, and then returns to questioning the creator again.

Both questions about the tyger’s creator are left unanswered. William Blake

uses rhythm, rhyme, and poetic devices to create a unique effect and to

parallel his theme in his work “The Tyger.”

William Blake’s choice of rhythm is important to his poem

“The Tyger” because it parallels the theme of the poem, that the

tyger may have been made by god or another harsher creator. Most

of the poem is written in trochaic tetrameter as can be seen in line

three, when Blake says, “What immortal hand or eye.” This rhythm is

very harsh sounding, exemplifying the very nature of the tyger.

Some of the lines in the poem were written in iambic tetrameter,

such as in line ten, when Blake says, “Could twist the sinews of thy heart? .”

Iambic tetrameter has a much softer sounding beat

than does trochaic tetrameter. This implies the gentle nature of

god, and if he could create such a beast. The last word of each

quatrain is written in a spondee. This helps to create a unique symmetry

and to parallel the “fearful symmetry” of a tyger.


William Blake’s use of rhyme greatly affects his work “The

Tyger.” The entire poem is written in couplets. Couplets contain

two lines, paralleling the dichotomy of the poem, that everything

has two sides or parts. The rhyme scheme is AA BB CC etc. Because the

rhyming words are so distinguishable from the non-rhyming words, they

form two separate categories, which also parallels the dichotomy of the

poem.

William Blake’s choice of poetic devices greatly affect his

work “The Tyger.” He uses cacophony, which is a rough sounding group of

words, to exemplify the brute nature of the tyger and to wonder if it was

made in hell by an evil creator. This can be seen in line sixteen when he

says, “Dare its deadly terrors clasp.” This line sounds unpleasant and harsh

to the ears. William Blake uses euphony, which is a smooth sounding group

of words, to show the gentle nature of god and to wonder if he created the

tyger. This can be seen in line twenty when he says “Did he who made the

lamb make thee?” This line sounds soft and pleasing to the ears. William

Blake uses alliteration and assonance to make his words seem harsh or soft.

He uses alliteration, which is the repetition of identical consonants to make

his words seem harsh as in “distant deeps” or “dare the deadly.” This

emphasizes the tiger’s rough nature, and questions the nature of it’s creator.

He also uses assonance, which is the repetition of identical vowel sounds, in

lines ten and eleven when he says “twist the sinews”, and “began to beat.”

This emphasizes the good nature of god.

William Blake never answers his question about the

unknown nature of god. He leaves it up to the reader to decide.

By beginning and ending his poem with the same quatrain he asks

the question about god creating evil as well as good, again. By changing one

word from “could” to “dare” he states that if god truly did create this beast, the

tyger, then how dare he. This also helps to give the poem a formal completeness.

By switching his rhythm from trochaic to iambic, Blake shows the two

possible natures of god, or of the two creators. By using couplets

he emphasizes the dichotomy of the poem. By using poetic devices

such as euphony, cacophony, assonance, and alliteration he can

further develop his question about the nature of god, gentle, or

harsh. His rhetorical questions are left unanswered. By doing this

he leaves his readers wondering, “Is there really an answer?”

Category: English