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Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

'Eye' and 'symmetry' don't rhyme in modern standard English. But pronunciation can shift over 200+ years. How would those two words have been spoken by Blake himself?

'Eye is sometimes pronounced as 'ee' in Scottish dialect, which would be a proper rhyme. Would Blake have said it that way?

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1 Answer 1

4

No!

Here is an example that proves how Blake pronounces "eyes", from Songs of Innocence:

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes.
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.


Personally, I think Blake rhymes "eye" on line three internally with "thy" on line four. While certainly a weak form of internal rhyme, "thy" satisfies our expectation of a rhyme, breaks the purposeful childish singsong rhyme and meter up to this point, placing a mid line emphasis on "thy", leaving space for that sublime "fearful symmetry".

Changing meter my way to reveal the effect:

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

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  • 2
    I am being Mr Twit! The very next line 5 and 6 of The Tyger prove the point: "In what distant deeps or skies. / Burnt the fire of thine eyes?"
    – fundagain
    May 5 at 15:06

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