Blake's illustration of The Tyger

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today we’ll be looking another poem that might be familiar to a lot of our readers: “The Tyger”, by William Blake. This perennial favourite has appeared in countless anthologies and interpretations. It captures the imagination with its rythmic arrangement and strong imagery.

Also known for his powerful artistic works, particularly his engravings, Blake wrote volumes of poetry that he illustrated himself. You can see a picture of his original illustration for “The Tyger” above, and read the poem below:

“Tiger, tiger, 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 seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and 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 watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”

This poem and many others by Blake can be found in the Project Gutenberg reproduction of Songs of Innocence, and Songs of Experience. Richmond upon Thames Library members can read more about Blake’s life and works in his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!