Song 59

 Tiger, tiger growling deep
Slow to stalk and swift to leap

 From the depths of Silent Night
Fierce the strike of Holy Light

Sulphur red my soul you fill
So force endures and fainting stills

Till purposed firm and vision’d sound
In fire I walk on earthy ground


 Whakapapa: written after I dreamt of a tiger (see below). Tigers symbolise instinct. They also symbolise natural energy. ‘In Hindu iconography, Shiva’s trophy is a tiger-skin. Natural energy, which does not bind Shiva and which he controls, is represented by the Shakti who rides the tiger. In Chinese Alchemy the tiger was a figure for the active principle ‘energy’ standing in contrast to the ‘moist’, passive principle’. 1) Symbolically the tiger is imbued with archetypal power and as such fills us with awe & cannot be domesticated within human language. As William Blake puts it: ‘What immortal hand or eye, could frame thy awful symmetry.’ ‘Sulphur Red’ is a reference to the active principle. ‘In alchemy, sulphur is the active principle and the one that acts upon inert mercury and either impregnates it or kills it. Sulphur corresponds to fire as mercury (corresponds) to water’. ‘In Muslim esotericism ‘red sulphur’ denotes the Universal Man (also represented by the Phoenix) who is therefore the product of the alchemist’s process of the Red Stone’. 2) The first line of the poem is influenced by William Blake’s: ‘Tyger, Tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night.’ When the line ‘From the depths of Silent Night’ came to me, it came with overtones of the Christmas carol ‘Silent Night… holy light’ & of the birth of the Christ and also the birth of the inner Christ, that occurs in all those, of different religions (& beyond religion) who experience the second birth.    

 “There was a film director making a film. The director was directing a crew of indigenous primitives. There was a dark section of land that no one had ever entered. An indigenous man in traditional warrior costume leapt into the dark section. The warrior was impetuous and over confident in the power of the tribe. Instantly a tiger leapt out of the darkness killing him and dragging him away. The tiger lived in the darkness. I then realised the dark section was part of the property of the film director. The director had set the film shoot up in such a way that the indigenous man had gone first & tested the dark area of his property. Now he knew what lived there. The director seemed really ingenious. I wondered what plan he would now put in motion concerning the tiger.” (16/3/13)  

1)     The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols: Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. Translated by John Buchanan-Brown: Pg 1007

2)     The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols: Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. Translated by John Buchanan-Brown: Pg 944

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