Text of the Poem

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?


  1. Blake employs both alliteration, or the repetition of consonant sounds, and assonance, or the repetition of vowel sounds, in the poem’s first line. In partnership with epizeuxis, repeating the consonant sounds “t” and “b” and the vowel sound “i” reinforces the poem’s musical rhythm, its emotional intensity, and its striking imagery of the majestic Tyger.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. The poem begins with an epizeuxis, or the repetition of words without intervening words in between. Blake’s repetition of the word “Tyger” gives musicality to the text and introduces a mysterious tone. This repetition also suggests that Blake describes all tigers that roam the “forests of the night,” as opposed to a specific one.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The entirety of “The Tyger” is an apostrophe, or an address to something or someone who does not respond. The poem’s speaker asks the Tyger a series of questions about its creator, but the Tyger does not respond. As these questions are directed to an animal that cannot respond, they are rhetorical musings about the nature of creation.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. The noun “symmetry” means to be made up of similar or equal parts, usually in an aesthetically pleasing way. The speaker refers to the Tyger’s beauty with a tone of cautious, awed respect by describing its “fearful symmetry.” Unlike the other end rhymes in this poem, “eye” and “symmetry” form a slant rhyme, in which the final consonant is the same but the preceding vowel sounds differ. Marking the word “symmetry” with a slant rhyme—also called an imperfect rhyme—forces the reader to pause and consider the word’s context—“fearful”—carefully.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Here, the verb “to aspire” means to physically rise up. The speaker imagines the Tyger’s creator flying into the “distant deeps or skies” in order to “seize the fire” that burns in the Tyger’s eyes. He also begins to wonder how the Tyger’s creator could “dare” to create such a fearsome, dangerous creature.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. “Sinew” is a fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone or bone to bone. It also refers to metaphorical strength. Despite the speaker’s referring to a specific physical component of the Tyger’s body, the context of the apostrophe suggests that the Tyger is a broader representation of something abstract—such as evil—rather than a mere animal.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. This line uses anaphora, or the repetition of a word at the beginning of successive lines or phrases. Here, the emphasis made by the repetition of the words “what dread” conveys the emotional intensity of the speaker’s awe at the Tyger’s power. Further, the speaker’s use of the adjective “dread” invokes its verb form, “to dread,” and suggests that he is increasingly afraid of the Tyger’s creator, who would make such a frightening beast.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. The noun “anvil” refers to a heavy iron block used in metalwork. The speaker depicts the Tyger’s creator as a blacksmith forging the tiger species into existence. This image possibly alludes to Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, who is often pictured holding a blacksmith’s hammer. Vulcan is also associated with molten metal and the fire of volcanoes, suggesting that the fire in the Tyger’s eyes could symbolize the destructive aspects of creation.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Here, “the Lamb” is an allusion to Jesus Christ. The speaker reveals the poem’s central paradox in the final question of the fifth stanza: that God has created both goodness (symbolized by the Lamb) and evil (symbolized by the Tyger) in the world.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Subtle changes to the punctuation and diction of the poem’s first stanza prevent this sixth and final stanza from being a perfect replication. The removal of the first line’s comma positions “burning bright” as a necessary characteristic of the Tyger—as opposed to something it happens to be doing in the moment. The semicolon that ends the first stanza’s second line is here changed to a colon, which makes the speaker’s address of the Tyger more pointed and less theoretical. Most striking, the speaker’s question has changed: in the first stanza he seems to be asking who would have the ability to create the Tyger, whereas now he asks who would “dare” to do so.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff