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Submitted on
July 25
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“The tiger’s rising,”
the mist told the chapel
and the chapel told the saint inside
“The tiger comes,” she said
and the saint
no more
than a rosebush high
and two fence posts wide
cried aloud in delight
or fear
it was never known which
or whether it was both
and he took his tapers and fled below
to the sepulcher
among the bones
of lords and ladies
clutching their rosaries
drinking their tea
and rotting beneath
the green sickly moon tonight
the stars gasping
and the mist dancing foxtrot upon the belfry
in taffeta and a tippet
the whippet hounds howling high
“O’ holy night, the Christ child comes,”
sang the saint
in the sepulcher
with his hands ‘round his hymn book
and a cross ‘round his throat
and then the tiger rose
silent as the snow
and ate the mist in the churchyard
so the chapel stood unshrouded
bright and shining
a song rising from her bowels
the saint still singing, weeping
“Hallelujah, hallelujah, tonight is Christmas Eve.”
the holly leaves fluttered out
from the doorframe
and came
the tiger through the pews
to kneel before the virgin mother
and the saint ascended
from the sepulcher
and drew a sharp breath
in delight or fear
it was never known which
or whether it was both
and the tiger turned
and the saint bowed
and all around the light
glowing golden
heaven opening
pouring down like embers
burning
and then the lights went out
snuffed black
the saint stumbled back
down the steps
the chapel’s mouth, gaping
swallowed him
and on the stones
the ice is forming
far above, the tiger rising
the saint is sleeping, silent babe
upon the stone
upon the grave
"Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

- from "Tiger" by William Blake

I loved this poem in elementary school.
Very beautiful, but at the same time,
sinister?
I thought I'd explore that.
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