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The Tyger

The Tyger


by William Blake

Stanza V and VI Summary

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

Lines 17-20

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?

  • These lines are the most clearly "Christian" of the poem.
  • Lines 17 and 18 are a bit ambiguous, and may refer to the casting down of the angels after Satan rebelled against God (see Paradise Lost).
  • The same "he" reappears here as in line 7, but in a much more Christian setting, more closely referencing God than the other stanza.
  • The "Lamb" is a traditional Christian symbol for Jesus Christ (who was "made" by God, though that is a big can of worms). It also refers back to Blake’s poem "The Lamb" in Songs of Innocence (see "In a Nutshell" for more on "The Lamb").

Lines 21-24

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

  • The final stanza echoes the first, but why?
  • Along with the rhyming and chant-like rhythm, the repetition may be like a refrain, like song’s chorus.
  • The repetition is also a very clever device to get us to notice the one change that is made to the stanza: "could" is switched to "dare."
  • Now, instead of questioning the ability of the creator, Blake questions his nerve. Like when you triple-dog dare someone, Blake seems to challenge the courage of whatever/whoever tried or tries to contain ("frame") the big, powerful, mysteriousness of the Tyger.

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