The tiger paces up and down
Behind the black bars of the page,
He pads on silent angry feet,
His heart is smouldering with rage.
Captive within the lines of type
He seeks, and yet can never find,
The world where he was free to range:
He is the poet's furious mind.
His are the unblinking eyes that stare
Into the gold heart of the sun,
He rakes the sky of stars and hunts
The darkness down, and is not done.
His was the world to roam, who now
Is captive to the black-barred page.
Reader, unlock the lines and face
The splendid danger of his rage!
A Coggle Diagram about The use of imperative voice directly addressing the audience in "Reader, unlock the lines" presents a command instead of an encouragement that presses on the importance to engage meaningfully with the poet's creative thoughts. This reiterates a barrier towards the discoveries that the reader may have made if the freedom of expression allowed the powerful beauty behind the poet's words to be truly unlocked.
, The attitude of the tiger as expressed in its "unblinking eyes that stare" convey its fixation and desperation to achieve the goal of freedom of speech
, The agitated movement of the tiger symbolically reflects the restlessness in the poet's thoughts
, The binary of the past and present implicitly established through the use of the semicolon in the last lines of the second stanza suggests that at some point the tiger was able to achieve the state they now cannot find. Since “free” is our conception of the perfect state for both a wild animal and a human being, the poet implies that there are barriers to living the ideal existence.
, The repetition of the line "black barred page" from the first stanza highlights that the poet remains trapped, creating a circular structure of the poem # #
, Again, use of past tense in "His was the world to roam" emphasises the comparison between past and presence to suggest the sense of loss the poet feels due to their newfound inability to convey their thoughts
, The line "The darkness down, and is not done" suggests that the conditions, whether light or darkness, do not change anything for the poet - they are still searching, despite having gone to such lengths in order to express themselves.
, The verbs "rakes" and "hunts" depict the manner in which the poet is approaching their work – as a desperate attempt to encapsulate as much as possible, to pursue with almost violent dedication (hunt as the intent to kill) – the desperate nature of their desire to discover
, The high modality of the word "never" suggests an insatiable desire for discovery of perhaps something elusive; despite constant search the tiger can "never" find what he wants
, The use of closed sentences reflects the restrictions that she, as well as, the tiger faces. Furthermore, Dobson stresses on the irony by employing a constrained structure following the rule of 4 stanzas with 4 lines each, each line consisting of eight syllables that conveys the plea to encourage creativity through a strict compliance of poetic conventions
, The alternation of stanzas integrates the metaphor as the first and third stanzas solely refer to the attitudes of the tiger, whereas, the second and last stanzas explicitly expose the extended metaphor.
, The use of the adjective "silent" suggests the removal of power. The emotive language that follows evident in "angry", "smouldering" and "rage" indicates the deliberate stealth in movement despite the presence of great passions that have been trapped or perhaps caused
, The imagery of captivity is reiterated in the first line of the second stanza indicating the extent of suffocation that it causes for the poet.
, The poem was written in a period where Dobson was shifting to a more personal style in her poetry, drawing on life experiences to create her work. Thus, we cannot ignore the possibility the poem is drawn from a stage of writer’s block or a sense of pressure – keep in mind the poem was written following two critically acclaimed collections from her early career.
, "Splendid danger” a paradox highlighting the many possibilities of discovering meaning in a literary work and its potential to open your mind, change, shape and challenge you.
and There is a deep irony in writing a successful poem about the difficulties of writing a successful poem.
Perhaps this a moment for the poet herself to rediscover her ability. As mentioned, perhaps this is a chance for her to channel the challenges and difficulties into one concise expression of frustration, allowing her to move past the psychological barriers and pressure she faces in being a poet.
This can be seen as a re-ignition moment for the creative spark, a confirmation of Dobson’s capacity to create and allowing for a type of self-discovery – an affirmation of her identity as a poet.