The Tiger - by William Blake
TIGER, tiger, 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 and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and 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?
A clear-eyed look at creation includes the amazing set of relationships that make up the web of life - the myriad connections between living things. The presence of top-predators - as rare as they are becoming (especially in the ongoing saga of super-predator - man) - reminds us of the complex sets of food-linked relationships in nature. The fear in our heart, though, is more than just that of being eaten - is speaks of a deeper sense that we as humans have of the dimensions of death and beyond.
As we continue to lose our nation's tigers - we mourn the ruthless harvesting of them by poachers who send their parts for medicinal compounds in Chinese markets. At the same time, we yearn for some approach to their conservation that does not criminalise forest dwellers and place a higher value on the tiger than on the many who have succumbed the last few years to tiger (and leopard) attacks. How to balance these apparently conflicting demands of personal security for people living in and near the jungle, with the need to keep the local ecosystem - top predators included - intact - is a continued struggle.
Would that we don't have the tiger and others only remembered in poetry. But thank God for poetry and its ability to capture what is deepest in our souls.