Tiger, tiger, burning bright – words to stitch by

Monday 26 January 2009

When I was designing my Stitching Cards Tiger pattern the words “Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forests of the night” kept going through my mind. They were from a poem half remembered from childhood, so I decided to look it up. The poem is The Tiger by William Blake. This is how it goes:

tigerTiger, tiger, 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 and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and 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?

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

William Blake (1757-1827)

On a historical note, Blake spelled tiger as Tyger as in “Tyger, Tyger burning bright”. Spelling dictionaries of the English language were only just appearing at that time so spelling was down to personal choice.

The illustration is from the Stitching Cards Tiger pattern.

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