What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
This stanza is extracted from the poem The Tyger by William Blake. It records the poet’s mystic vision about God’s creation of the tiger. Through a child’s wondering interrogation, the poet indicates here the mystic and majestic creation of God and comments particularly on the instruments used by Him in the making of the terrible creature, tiger.
The tiger is no lamb. In the child’s naive feeling, its creation requires the manifestation of God’s supreme power and exertions. This fierce beast must have been made by means of instruments that are rare and powerful. Through the innocent child’s romantic imagination, the poet asserts that the chain, the anvil, the hammer, and the furnace which are employed in the creation of the tiger must be of a different stature and strength. The child wonders to know the nature of those instruments. Moreover, the poet finely suggests his feeling of astonishment at the strength of the hand that must have held those instruments and compressed the dread of the tiger together. That must be something supreme, unearthly, and unimaginable in the Creator.
The entire stanza bears out Blake’s romantic vision that is enlivened with a strange combination of simplicity and mysticism. God’s creative potency, variety, and mysticism are here particularly emphasized. Blake’s absolute, unquestioning faith in God’s creativity is clearly marked here, although his approach to the mystery of His creation, through a child’s simple interrogation, has a sort of novelty, that is basically plain and straight.