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I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psalm 139

As is the case with any poem, there are as many opinions as there are readers of William Blake's Tyger! Tyger!. Below is the full text of the poem that inspired the title of A. Zee's book Fearful Symmetry, and above is the verse that inspired William Blake's poem. In what follows, I have substituted "Bible" for "Tyger" to help awaken your poetic soul to the creative Work of Almighty God. The image is Blake's own rendition of his poem.

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Tyger Bible! Tyger Bible!

Bible! Bible! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Bible! Bible! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

I will now let Scripture comment on this poem verse by verse. The conscilience with the Bible's self-description is astounding. The fact that William Blake was a Christian mystic - though with many heterodox views, to put it mildly - makes me wonder if he did not have the Bible in mind when he composed this. Or was this another case of the mysterious poetic intelligence we saw in Philip K. Dick's Bible as Hologram? The answer doesn't really matter - no matter its origin, we have now a beautiful song simultaneously praising God's Living Work and Word.

Bible! Bible! burning bright

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. [Psalm 119.105]

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. [John 1.1-4]

In the forests of the night:

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. [John 1.5]

What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

All things were made by him [JESUS]; and without and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1.2-3

Thus saith the LORD [YHVH], thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; [Isaiah 44.24]

In what distant deeps or skies

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: [Proverbs 8.22f]

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. [Zechariah 3.9]

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. [Zechariah 4.10, cf Seven and Scripture]

On what wings dare he aspire?

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind. [Psalm 104]

What the hand dare seize the fire?

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? Isaiah 40

And what shoulder, & what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. Isaiah 22

And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! [Psalm 139]

What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? [Job 38.7f]

Bible! Bible! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Glory to God in the Highest! Praise Him for His Holy Word!






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