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Tyger Prosody

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 850
  • Category: Poetry

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The poem is comprised of six quatrains in rhymed couplets in an AABB pattern which have perfect rhyme with the exception of two couplets that occur in the first and last quatrain which are imperfect rhyme. The unmatched couplets are identical to one another, since the second quatrain is only a repetition of the first with the exception of one word. The unmatched rhyme occurs between the words ‘eye’ and ‘symmetry’ which, though they end in an e sound, do not rhyme perfectly as the other couplets in the poem. All other couplets consist of perfect rhymes such as bright/night (1-2), and aspire/fire (6-8). Each of the rhymed couplets, whether they are perfect or imperfect, are masculine rhymes because they rhyme on a stressed rather than unstressed syllable The meter is regular and rhythmic which perfectly suits its regular structure, in which a string of questions all contribute to the central idea. The poem’s also uses Catalexis in its scansion which is why most of the lines are written in trochaic tetrameter in which the final unaccented syllable at the end of the line is often silent. A few of the quatrain-ending lines have an additional unstressed syllable at the beginning of the line, which converts the meter to iambic tetrameter and places a special emphasis on those lines: William Blake never uses the same rhyming sound twice.

Every couplet has a different rhyming sound. The rhyming helps the poem remain euphonious and it allows the reader to enjoy the poem even more. For example: “Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright, in the forest of the night,” but if you had, “Tiger! Tiger! Burning brightly, in the forest of the night,” it wouldn’t sound as good.

Alliteration in the occurs in lines 1(burning bright), 5(distant deeps), 7(what wings), 11(began to beat), 16(dare its deadly), and 20(he who). The alliteration abounds and helps create a sing-song rhythm. The alliteration is successful because it draws you in to the musical meter and makes the sound stick in your mind. The hard sounds of “d” and “b”, such as “Burning, distant deeps, burn, began to beat, dread, dare, and deadly” are used in many lines to show a presence of an intense feeling of fear and evil. However, soft consonant sounds such as “w” and “s”, like “What, symmetry, skies, wings, sinews, why, spears, and stars” show a more gentle attitude of the author. There are several instances of consonance throughout the poem with such words as burning/bright (1, 21), frame/fearful (4, 24), distance/deeps (5), stars/spears (17) which occur on the first line of each quatrain. This repetition and consonance unifies the sound structure of the poem for the reader, making the lines easy to read, yet they complicate the meaning of the poem subtly, especially the imperfectly rhymed lines that change in the last quatrain: that slight off rhyme and then the word change in the last line of the poem creates an unsettling feeling for the reader.

He also uses assonance, which is the repetition of identical vowel sounds, in lines ten and eleven when he says “twist the sinews”, and “began to beat.” This emphasizes the good nature of god. By using poetic devices he further develops the questions about the natures of God. Another example of assonance is “the fire of thine eyes”. In this line, the “i” in fire and thine and the first “e” in eyes create the assonance. The significance of this device is that it adds to the rhythmic pattern and creates imagery. The use of the first stanza as a refrain repeating it with the difference of one word (dare) at the end is also for special emphasis of its symbolism, which will be explained with repetition. Repetition is obvious throughout the poem . The poem begins with Blake’s emphasis of the tiger’s creation by the repetition of “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright” (1 & 21) from the first verse of the poem to the last verse of the poem.

The repetition creates a chant-like mood to the whole poem, which contributes to the mysteriousness. Reading it, you can’t help but get the feeling this poem is about way more than just an overgrown cat. The repetition of the verb ‘dread’ in describing the ‘Tyger’ emphasizes the pain and suffering this creation of God can bring on people and nature. The most significant repetition occurs in the first and last quatrains which are identical except for the substitution of the word “could” in line 4 with the word “dare” in line 24. The repetition is significant because it gets us to notice the one change that is made to the stanza: “could” is switched to “dare.” Now, instead of questioning the ability of the creator, Blake questions his nerve. Blake seems to challenge the courage of whatever/whoever tried or tries to contain (“frame”) the big, powerful, mysteriousness of the Tyger. “In what distant deeps or skies” the caesura used between these words and the alliteration ties them together thus making readers pay more attention to the words written in the poem.

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