Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

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National Poetry Month: “The Tyger” by William Blake


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One of my favorite poems is “The Tyger” by William Blake. The poem is mesmerizing in its relentless hammered beat which represents the making of the fearsome tiger, as if its bright, burning coloring was forged from the fires of a mighty furnace.

I’ve thought it a contender for rap and amused my class trying to read it aloud as a rapper. I’ve had my class chant it unison with eerie results, thirty voices sounding as if we were practicing some Gregorian chant.

This time around I will silently appreciate its genius, and I hope you will also.

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

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

POM: April 11


April is so close to May which is close to June and then it’s SUMMER!!

Here’s some Ella to remind us of that good, good season:

Good old William Blake also knew how to lay down one awesome summer poem, I will credit him for that.

O thou who passest thro’ our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched’st here thy goldent tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.

Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
Rode o’er the deep of heaven; beside our springs
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on
Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy
Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream:
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.

Our bards are fam’d who strike the silver wire:
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains:
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance:
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat

And for something a little less dazzling, I turn to a fave: William Carlos Williams

Wanderer moon
smiling a
faintly ironical smile
at this
brilliant, dew-moistened
summer morning,—
a detached
sleepily indifferent
smile, a
wanderer’s smile,—
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
sky-blue
where would they carry me?


June POM: nice whether


June is an interesting month around my parts. In the time it takes to say “what’s it gonna do today?” the weather changes, so we don’t know whether it will be chilly or hot. At the beginning of the month it has been known to be cold enough to have a frosty wake up, so we light a chill-breaker in the morning, only to run the air conditioner by mid-afternoon due to the surge in temperature. It makes for the school’s outdoor graduation an interesting guess. I’m glad I don’t have to make that call of inside or outside.

This radical rolling of temperature swings causes some bodacious storms at times. The sudden swirl of wind, rattling of angry rain, that tempers out into penitent miffs of drips as the sky clears into blue and friendly puffy clouds  once again. Oh I do enjoy those brief summer storms. I hide out under the back porch to witness these summer snits. I guess they reflect the ocassional temper tantrum I might have tossed about in my younger days ( I’m not admitting anything).

Leonara Speyer captures well that brief snit fit found in summer:

Squall by Leonora Speyer

The squall sweeps gray-winged across the obliterated hills,

And the startled lake seems to run before it;

From the wood comes a clamor of leaves,

Tugging at the twigs,

Pouring from the branches,

And suddenly the birds are still.
Thunder crumples the sky,

Lightning tears at it.
And now the rain!

The rain—thudding—implacable—

The wind, reveling in the confusion of great pines!
And a silver sifting of light,

A coolness;

A sense of summer anger passing,

Of summer gentleness creeping nearer—

Penitent, tearful,

Forgiven!

 

I would be remiss if I did not include a poem that reflects the current situation of June: IT IS REALLY, REALLY HOT, and way too early for such heat–at least in our parts. So here is another side of summer that reminds us that while summer is mostly lovely it can be hot as riding into battle.

To Summer by William Blake

O thou who passest thro’ our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched’st here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
Rode o’er the deep of heaven; beside our springs
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on

Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy
Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream:
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.

Our bards are fam’d who strike the silver wire:
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains:
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance:
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat.

For an interesting commentary on the poem, check out this link.

 

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