Comparing and contrasting “The Tyger” by William Blake with “Traveling through the Dark” by William Stafford


Use of animals in poetry has found wide application amongst different poets. Animals have been used to represent different issues that affect human beings. William Blake and William Stafford are such poets in their works The Tyger and Traveling through the Dark respectively.

Although the poetic style and mannerism of William Stafford is somewhat easier to comprehend than that of Blake, both authors talk about key aspects of animals that are very speedy, somewhat immortal, and loving creatures to some extent. These two poems have both similarities and differences; this paper analyses the similar and the different elements of these two works. Tiger and a deer are morphologically different, they share little in common, and this extends to these poems where differences outweigh similarities.

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The two poems talk about two different animals. Whilst Stafford talks of a deer, Blake talks about a tiger. These two animals are different and they symbolize different issues. A tiger is larger than a deer and faster too. The emotions that the writers have about the two animals are different too. Stafford feels sorry for the deer as he says, “she was large in the belly… her fawn lay there waiting/ alive, still, never to be born” (Stafford lines 9, 11 & 12).

This brings out the authors feelings of sympathy about the deer; therefore, the poem’s mood and tone is a sympathetic one. On the other side, Blake paints the tiger as a heroic animal and adores its nature. He says, “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright/ in the forests of the night/ what immortal hand or eye/ could frame thy fearful symmetry” (Blake lines 3-6).

Unlike Stafford, Blake does not sympathize with his animal; on the contrary, he is mesmerized by its nature. This description brings out tiger as a fierce animal that could ‘burn’ brilliantly in the forest. As discussed somewhere else in this paper, these animals symbolize different issues.

As aforementioned, another outstanding difference between these two poems is the symbols represented by the two animals. To Blake, tiger symbolizes a powerful, spiritual, and/or immortal creature. He says, “What immortal hand and eye” (Blake line 3). The fact that the tiger has an ‘immortal’ eye, paints a picture of an immortal animal. Moreover, the tiger comes out as a powerful animal when Blake says, “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright / in the forests of the night” (Blake lines 1 & 2). This description evokes thoughts of a powerful animal.

On the other side, the deer in Stafford’s poem symbolizes a very innocent and normal animal. This is just a normal animal that has fallen probably into hands of a hunter. Stafford says, “My fingers touching her side brought me the reason…” (Line 10). The fact that the author could associate with the deer echoes its gentle and normal nature. If a deer were a fierce animal, the author would not associate with it even in its death.

Finally, the themes of these two poems are different. Blake explores immortality and mightiness and uses tiger to demonstrate these themes. The tiger is swift, not even death can overtake it, and that is why Blake wonders, “What immortal hand or eye/

Could frame thy fearful symmetry” (Blake line 3 & 4). On the contrary, Stafford’s theme is death and rebirth. The deer died as she was about to give birth. Stafford says, “A recent killing/ she had stiffened already, almost cold… her fawn lay there waiting/ alive, still, never to be born” (Stafford lines 7, 8, 11, & 12). Unfortunately, the two lives of both the doe and her fawn were lost. Nevertheless, Stafford’s claim here is that, there is rebirth even in the face of inevitable death.


Despite many outstanding differences between these two poems, they have some similarities. In both cases, there is use of animal imagery. Blake uses tiger; Stafford uses a deer. The two poems address human issues, power, death, and rebirth. It is human nature to crave for power and inevitably give birth before they die.

Moreover, some people are as strong as tiger while others are as innocent as a deer. Therefore, these tow poems addresses human issues perfectly. The issue of symbolism stands out well despite the fact that the two animals symbolize different things.


William Blake and William Stafford’s works, The Tyger and Traveling through the Night respectively are both interesting poems and masterpieces by virtue of their originality. They both address issues affecting human beings hence making them relevant in real life situations. Power, death, and rebirth are inherent human issues; therefore, it validates the themes behind these poems.

There is rich application of symbolism. While Blake uses tiger to symbolize power that equals immortality, Stafford uses deer to represent innocence, death, and rebirth. Due to its swift and powerful nature, tiger can outrun death hence its immortality, something that mesmerizes Blake. On the other hand, deer cannot outrun death and this explains why it dies. There are outstanding differences and similarities between these two poems. In Blake’s case, tiger can outrun death; however, in Stafford’s case, deer cannot outrun death and it dies in the hands of probably a hunter. In summation, the poems are educative and enjoying at the same time.

Works Cited

Blake, William. “The Tyger.” 1974. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.

Stafford, William. “Traveling through the Night.” N.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.


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