Felix Dennis

Felix Dennis, Poet, Publisher and Tree Planter

The Lamb Bids The Tyger Farewell

The poet has come to the pamphleteer
   Most secretly, most secretly,
The Lamb has spoke in the Tyger’s ear:
   ‘I fear for thee. I fear for thee.

‘The noose is looped on the Liberty Tree!
   A tyrant’s rope, a tyrant’s rope,
The Lion has loosed the Jackals.  Flee!
   Thy only hope, thy only hope.’

The Tyger has taken the poet’s arm
   His face is wry, his face is wry:
‘And wilt thou come, O lamb of alarm?’
   ‘No, no, not I. No, no, not I.

‘Oh, but I shall pen such a verse this day,
   To make amend, to make amend,
As shall shake the world in another way —
   Farewell, my friend; farewell, my friend.’

New York

In 1792, William Blake came to warn the fiercely radical activist and writer, Thomas Paine, that the British authorities were about to arrest him for treason following publication in London of the second part of Paine’s The Rights of Man. Paine fled to Dover and took ship to France with the arrest party literally on his heels. Had they caught him, he would certainly have been hung — as his subsequent trial in abstentia made clear. Paine went on to take a significant role in the French revolution, just as he had in the American colonies, where his pamphlet, Common Sense, was influential in bringing about the Declaration of Independence. William Blake published The Tyger (Tyger, Tyger, burning bright / In the forests of the night…) in 1794 in Songs of Experience. Of course, the conceit that The Tyger in any way portrays Thomas Paine is merely that — as every scholar of Blake would affirm. Yet reading the poem again with the thought in mind made me wonder…

Poem Published in the following books: A Glass Half Full  

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