Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tigers in Literature and Popular Culture

For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.

-- Christopher Smart, from 'Jubilate Agno', 1759-63


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

-- William Blake, ‘The Tyger’, from Songs of Experience, 1794


   "The Wolves are a free people," said Father Wolf. "They take orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped cattle-killer. The man's cub is ours—to kill if we choose."
    "Ye choose and ye do not choose! What talk is this of choosing? By the bull that I killed, am I to stand nosing into your dog's den for my fair dues? It is I, Shere Khan, who speak!"
    The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder.

-- Rudyard Kipling, 'Mowgli's Brothers', 1893


But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder

-- Herbert Kretzmer’s English adaptation of French lyrics (J’avais revé) by Alain Boublil, Les Misérables, 1980. 


Warfield lifted a great paw and put it in her hand. She felt the roughness of the pads and smelt faintly the cage floor. He pressed a toe to make the claw slide out. The heavy, supple muscles of the shoulders filled her hands.
She felt the tiger’s ears, the width of its head, and, carefully, the veterinarian guiding her, touched the roughness of its tongue. Hot breath stirred the hair on her forearms.

Last, Dr Warfield put the stethoscope in her ears. Her hands on the rhythmic chest, her face upturned, she was filled with the tiger heart’s bright thunder.

-- Thomas Harris, Red Dragon, 1981


But I couldn’t completely shake the idea that there really was something out there. I gathered my courage and tried to open myself, to extend my senses out into the night, to feel the tiger as it burned. It was nearby, I could tell, breathing softly, waiting. Somehow knowing me, knowing all of us, hungrily accepting the touch of my thoughts, purring like distant thunder with anticipation.

-- Tom Wright, What Dies in Summer, 2012

Which I am just this minute reading. I guess the softness and the brightness and the night and the burning and the thunder just go on and on and on.