Poem of the Week

In William Blake‘s collection of poems entitled, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, The Tyger might be one of the most famous. Blake created an illuminated manuscript for the poems, with original illustrations, and Innocence and Experience were two different versions of the book that represented two versions of oneself. Each poem in the Innocence version has a counterpart in the Experience version. For example, the counterpart to The Tyger, which appears in Experience, would be The Lamb in the Innocence portion. Blake was known for studying and writing about childhood and innocence and his poems in this collection portray how as children, we are innocent and naive, and as we gain experience, we are changed.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Showing The Two Contrary States of the Human Soul

The Lamb:

Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 
Gave thee life & bid thee feed. 
By the stream & o’er the mead; 
Gave thee clothing of delight, 
Softest clothing wooly bright; 
Gave thee such a tender voice, 
Making all the vales rejoice! 
         Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 
         Little Lamb I’ll tell thee, 
         Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name, 
For he calls himself a Lamb: 
He is meek & he is mild, 
He became a little child: 
I a child & thou a lamb, 
We are called by his name. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee.


The Tyger:

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 seize 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?



Featured image courtesy of Famous People