zotz

I visit the zoo.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


Visitor: Ah, that old ditty. Did you know that that's the most anthologized poem in the English language? It's short. It's catchy. It rhymes. It's in the public domain.

Lamb: And it's better than anything. Do not interrupt when something better than you speaks. Listen.

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 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?


Lamb: Perverse, isn't it?

Visitor: How so?

Lamb: Blake suggests his god can smile, and smile at a Terrible & Awful design. Smile in delight. A god capable of surprising and pleasing itself. Listen again.

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright


Lamb: Is that a salutation or a cry of alarm?

In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye


Lamb: Here is the hand of the god for the first of four times. It grasps and clasps and seizes. This is the real hand of a real god, the model of the god with opposable thumbs.

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?


Lamb: The hand again. And is it the hand of the Jewish and Christian god? Or an older one? Is that Prometheus? A god that dares? What does that make the tiger?

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?


Lamb: Frankenstein was written a few years later.

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


Lamb: And now the god becomes a smith. Is it Hephaestus this time?

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?


Lamb: This is where I am led in. A lamby cameo to show that, as the tiger is to me, the god is to the tiger.

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


Lamb: The god is a hand, eyes, wings, hand, shoulder, hand, feet. It grasps and clasps and twists, dares and aspires, and even, perhaps, smiles. And it mingles with the tiger. All this dread, is it the god's or the tiger's?

Visitor: Does a tiger smile?

Lamb: Yes. You see it only once.


4 Comments:

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Thirza said...

I happened to come along your blog and that goes to show that random clicking can lead to some interesting reading ... You must have heard it before, but here it is again: your writing is really really good ! I have enjoyed myself tremendously reading your blog.
Thank you.

 
At 10:26 PM, Blogger Paul Sweeney said...

There is a wonderful reading of that poem in Blake, A Biography by Peter Ackroyd, p145-149, Minerva Edition. Its gaspworthy. One of those moments when you feel a veil might lift after all. Kind Regards
Paul Sweeney

 
At 6:04 AM, Blogger shyloh said...

Awee awesome reading. I have also enjoyed my visit here.

Aloha

 
At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have much enjoyed my walk through your world today; as a poet and an avid reader, I found your site both enriching as well as enlightening...I thank you.

 

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