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Burning Questions: A Guide to William Blake’s “The Tyger”

Commentary and Quotations


The British Museum has a handwritten manuscript draft of “The Tyger,” which provides a fascinating glimpse into the unfinished poem. Their introduction makes succinct note of the unique combination in Blake’s poems of a simple-seeming nursery rhyme framework carrying a heavy load of symbolism and allegory: “Blake’s poetry is unique in its wide appeal; its seeming simplicity makes it attractive to children, while its complex religious, political and mythological imagery provokes enduring debate amongst scholars.”

Famed literary critic Alfred Kazin, in his Introduction to William Blake, called “The Tyger” “a hymn to pure being. And what gives it its power is Blake’s ability to fuse two aspects of the same human drama: the movement with which a great thing is created, and the joy and wonderment with which we join ourselves to it.”

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