by William Blake
In typical Blake fashion, the speaker is of this poem is really, really hard to pin down. Let’s take this one step at a time and not bite off more than we can chew. Deal? Deal.
First of all, the speaker seems to have the ability to criticize the world. That means that he doesn’t take things as they are, he questions, he wonders, ponders, and explores – all that stuff journalists and philosophers alike are known for.
Second, the speaker has a visionary eye. This is especially tricky. We call people visionaries when they seem to have a perspective on the world that is totally different or mind-blowing, even though we inhabit the same world. If you’ve ever had a teacher who brought a poem to life that you thought was boring, it might be a visionary moment. If you’ve heard an inspiring speech about what the world is or could be from a politician or preacher, that person could be a visionary. Put simply, a visionary is a person who has the potential to see things as we would (perhaps could) never see them.
This speaker is certainly seeing something. That's part of the excitement of reading and picking apart a poem by a great poet – it's an opportunity to experience a new and sometimes wondrous perspective. The speaker creates an entirely new reality for us to explore with him. Blake's Tyger is obviously unlike any tiger in our world, metaphors are grand and mysterious, and religious imagery weaves throughout, evading our best efforts to nail down exactly what is going on. The chant-like rhythm and rhyme contribute to the hymnal or religious undertones, while at the same time the questions and content challenge us to find answers.
Like some crazy kook who wanders out of the "forests of the night," this speaker seems totally out of this world. However, a common trap readers fall into is thinking Blake or his speaker is simply crazy – and write them off in the process (even scholars do this sometimes). The speaker may be coming at you in an extremely new, indirect, perhaps uncomfortable way, but his message forces you to think. In a way, a subject this massive and mysterious (the creation and containment of power) can only be communicated through someone who talks a little crazy-like now and then.