Blake’s ‘The Tyger’: “What immortal hand or eye, Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

You can compare different versions of the poem here.

Some critics think this poem is about the struggle for the people to be free; you can read about this here. There is a detailed academic explanation of the poem here.

The British Library has the original draft of the manuscript, which you can read about here. williamblakelge


Questions to answer on the poem

This is perhaps one of the most famous poems ever written; why is it so well known do you think?

What effects are created when the poem is read aloud or sung?

What interests you most about the poem? Why?

What questions might you ask about the poem?

What is the poem about?

What effects does the language create?

What is the effect of the poem’s structure and form?

What are the similarities and differences between other texts?

How do other people interpret this poem? Find sources/links…

What might make a good creative response to the poem?

How might you teach this poem?