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The Tyger

The Tyger


by William Blake

Stanza III and IV Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 9-12

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?

  • This stanza continues the questioning of who/what the creator of the Tyger is (notice the "And" continues the thought from the previous stanza).
  • What "shoulder" roughly means what kind of bodily strength could create the Tyger ("twist the sinews of thy heart").
  • What "art" refers to the skill that could put the Tyger all together.
  • Lines 11 and 12 are more mysterious, in that they're really vague. From earlier in the poem we know that hands and eyes frame (stanza 1), hands seize (line 8), shoulders twist (lines 9 and 10), but what do these hands and feet do after the heart begins to beat? Whose hands and feet? Again, not sure.
  • Whatever the answer, the use of "dread" increases the same big, powerful, mysterious quality known as "the sublime."

Lines 13-16

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

  • These lines further question how the Tyger was created.
  • Blake uses the metaphor of the blacksmith, who forms metal with a hammer, furnace (fire), and anvil.
  • The stanza is very rhythmic, adding further to the chant-like quality that we talked about in lines 1-2.
  • We also get the sense that the pace and volume is picking up, since the questions are now coming faster and Blake uses his first exclamation point.

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