Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
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1794 / London

Forests of the Night

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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 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 watered 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?

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Book of Nature
About the Text

William Blake, "The Tyger." The poet beheld his first vision at the age of four when he saw the face of God appear in a window. Shunned by London literary and ecclesiastical society, Blake pursued his discoveries of the divinity of nature while earning his living as an engraver.

Innumerable artifices and stratagems are acted in the howling wilderness and in the great deep that can never come to our knowledge.
Joseph Addison, 1711
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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