Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fearful Symmetry

As I recall from Romantic Lit courses, William Blake was the first bad boy of that genre, with some of his better-known poems even prefacing — or existing apart from — the movement (let us never forget 1798!). And so, sometime before the melancholy Wordsworth and egomaniacal Shelley, Blake was painting the literary world with apocalyptic visions so intense, even Jim Morrison found inspiration in him some 160 years later ("You need only cleanse The Doors of Perception...")

If you're familiar with his work, you likely know his poem "The Tyger" (a photo of his original engraved plate is to the left). This was written a few years before Wordsworth and Coleridge threw together Lyrical Ballads, and the simple version of it goes a little like this: why would any caring deity create something as destructive as a tiger, anyway? And what's with this vicious food chain? War? Tyranny? Etc.

You Blake-ians out there are likely falling over yourselves to remind me that the poem is more complicated than that (or perhaps even tell me his mysticism shouldn't be confused with idyllic Romanticism).

But I'm not here to write a thesis. I'm here to show you some director's video interpretation of the poem.

Be warned, I recommend 100% sobriety before watching this video. It's a trip in and of itself.


michele said...

That video is wild! though I wonder, perhaps it's best watched at 0% sobriety... :)

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Good point — suspect it may be best understood when ones inhibitions are impaired.