In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake, the brilliant British poet, published "The Tyger" in 1794 and it's always been one of my favorite poems. I studied him during a brief period when I thought I might want to be a poet, a career plan undone by the fact that I disliked having my poems read by others, an attitude that caused me real problems in my college poetry class.
Blake, obviously, didn't have that problem. But he had plenty of others. He struggled for recognition during his lifetime. He was plagued by chronic illness and also by apparent hallucinations. He often talked of heavenly visions, the appearance of angels or of his dead brother. In my poet days, my coffee house friends and I joined in speculations that he was spaced on drugs, perhaps opium, when he created his etchings, his paintings of coiling dragons, or wrote of tigers in all their wild glory.
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?
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?