Monday, 18 May 2015


Q. What is symbol? Give a suitable example by referring to a poem you have read.

i) Symbol is something associated with something else that it signifies or represents. Symbol is an object that stands for something else and opens up the possibility of multiple meanings over and beyond it. Symbols frequently are based on a likeness. The lion represents courage because lions are said to be bravo. The lily symbolizes purity because, it is white. Symbolic identifications have a certain persistence, but symbols are detachable and in time may find other affinities. The eagle of Jupiter,a heavenly messenger, became identified in Christian times with St. John, but in alchemy the eagle became the symbol of volatilization. In a somewhat stranger fashion, red -the colour of Christian charity - became associated for quite other reasons with communism and class conflict. Analogy in symbolism can be attributed to the theory of correspondence, which involved the idea that all parts of creation are related through analogy, so that to every material manifestation there corresponds a reality of a higher Order. As a result poetic symbolism becomes a means of revealing the hidden correspondences of the universe. The literary symbol appeals to the imagination and to the instinctive feelings of the reader, not to the intellect. A symbol is not a token with a precise, definite,clearly established conceptual reference to be pinned down and accurately described.

ii) Blake's The Tyger stands for and points to creative energy but it is also an instance of that creative energy, The mental picture of the Tiger bursting through the "forests of the night" is terrifyingly beautiful. According  to T.S.Eliot, the Tiger symbolizes for Blake the "abundant life" which Christ came to bring into the world. The Tiger is for Blake a symbol of regeneration and energy. In The Tyger, Blake suggests the dual aspect of God as creator and destroyer but the symbol remains enigmatic. The poem represents the defeat of Urizen(Satan) by Ore(God); the stars who throw down their spears are the hosts of Urizen, their cold light suggesting the sterility of Reason in contrast to the fiery heat of Energy, In the Prophetic Books, the "immortal smith" is Los. In The.First Book of Urizen,  Loa forges Urizen. Since Los represents in some sense Man, the point is that Man is responsible for the creation of Urizen. In "The Tyger", the "immortal smith" forges the Tiger. Possibly the meaning is that it is up to man to give shape to the vast potentialities with which it
is endowed.

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