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William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
 
Songs of Experience
The Tiger
 
TIGER! 1 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        5
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?        10
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        15
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?        20
 
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
 
Note 1. The original draft of ‘The Tiger’, written upon two opposite pages of the Rossetti MS., enables us to follow every step in the composition of the poem. On the left-hand page is found the first rough cast of stanzas i, ii, iii, iv, and vi. In stanza iii the manuscript version throws light upon a verse which has proved a crux to many of Blake’s readers and commentators. It will be seen from the appended transcript that Blake at first intended the line
‘What dread hand and what dread feet’
as the beginning of a sentence running on into the next quatrain. Dissatisfied with the form of this unfinished stanza, he cancelled it altogether, leaving the preceding line as it stood; but subsequently, when engraving the poem for the Songs of Experience, converted the passage, by a change of punctuation into its present shape:
‘What dread hand? & what dread feet?’
a line exactly parallel in form to
‘What the hammer? what the chain?’
of the following stanza. We have yet another reading in Dr. Malkin’s Father’s Memoirs of his Child (1806), where the version of ‘The Tiger’, presumably supplied to the author by Blake himself, contains the variant
  ‘What dread hand forged thy dread feet?’

  On the opposite page of the MS. Book is the first draft of stanza v, and above it, though probably written after, a revised version of ii, which differs from that finally adopted. To the right of these two stanzas follows a fair copy of i, iii, v, and vi, which, except for unimportant differences of capitalization, and the readings ‘dare frame’ for ‘could frame’ in the first, and ‘hand and eye’ for ‘hand or eye’ in the first and last stanzas, is identical with the text of the engraved Songs.
  The following is a faithful transcript of the original draft of ‘The Tiger’ in the MS., Blake’s variant readings being indicated typographically by placing them in consecutive order, one below another, deleted words or lines being printed in italics. The manuscript is unpunctuated throughout.
THE TYGER
  
1  Tyger Tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand & eye
or
Could frame thy fearful symmetry
Dare
  
2  In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt in
Burnt the fire of thine eyes
The cruel
On what wings dare he aspire
What the hand dare sieze the fire
  
3  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
  
Could fetch it from the furnace deep
And in thy horrid ribs dare steep
In the well of sanguine woe
In what clay & in what mould
Were thy eyes of fury rolld
  
4  What the hammer What the chain
Where  where
In what furnace was thy brain
What the anvil What the arm
arm
grasp
clasp
dread grasp
Could its deadly terrors clasp
Dare            grasp
clasp
  
6  Tyger Tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand & eye
Dare form thy fearful symmetry
      frame
  
[On the opposite page]
  
Burnt in distant deeps or skies
The cruel fire of thine eyes
Could heart descend or wings aspire
What the hand dare sieze the fire
  
5  3  And did he laugh his work to see
        dare he smile
                laugh
What the shoulder    what the knee
          ankle
  4  Did he who made the lamb make thee
      Dare
  1  When the stars threw down their spears
  2  And waterd heaven with their tears [back]
 
 
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