Tiger in the Menagerie

In our Literature class we are analyzing a new poem called “Tiger in the Menagerie” by Emma Jones. We were given an assignment in which we had to see some videos in our teacher’s blog, and then analyze the poem in our own blogs.


Background of Emma Jones:

  • Born to an Australian mother and a British father
  • Raised in Sydney
  • After getting a degree in English, Emma Jones moved to the university of Cambridge where she recieved a Ph.d.
  • Her first volume of poetry had the distinction of being published by Faber.

Analysis:

No one could say how the tiger got into the menagerie.
It was too flash, too blue, 
too much like the painting of a tiger.

At night the bars of the cage and the stripes of the tiger
looked into each other so long
that when it was time for those eyes to rock shut

the bars were the lashes of the stripes
the stripes were the lashes of the bars

and they walked together in their dreams so long
through the long colonnade 
that shed its fretwork to the Indian main

that when the sun rose they’d gone and the tiger was 
one clear orange eye that walked into the menagerie.

No one could say how the tiger got out in the menagerie.
It was too bright, too bare.
If the menagerie could, it would say ‘tiger’.

If the aviary could, it would lock its door.
Its heart began to beat in rows of rising birds 
when the tiger came inside to wait.

FIRST STANZA: “No one could say”: the first line in the poem suggests that the tiger’s presence is a mystery. And this already gives the idea that the tiger could be a symbol in the poem. Menagerie: a collection of wild animals kept in captivity. It can also be interpreted more widley to refer to a collection of people or things. Repetition of “too“. Simile: “Like the painting of a tiger” gives a hint that the tiger is the representation of something else.

SECOND STANZA: “Time for those eyes to rock shut” It signifies a loss of consciousness, and the word “rock” suggests it is a gentle process. The tiger is becoming one with the bars of the cage. 

THIRD STANZA:  In this stanza the tiger and the bars of the cage finally merge. 

FOURTH STANZA: “They walked together in their dreams so long” The tiger and the bars are know together and they have a dream. Fretwork: patterns or decoration on a surface made by cutting into or through the surface

FIFTH STANZA: “The sun” & “One clear orange eye” imagery on the sun and the eye. 

SIXTH STANZA: “No one could say” again there is mystery. “Too brigth, too bare” We don’t know if these adjectives refer to the tiger, the sun, or both. 

SEVENTH STANZA:  “Aviary” (It is an enclousure for keeping birds) maybe it symbolizes freedom. “It would lock its doors” Because the tiger is dangerous for the birds. “Its heart began to beat in rows of rising birds” there is alliteration. “The tiger came inside to wait” What is the tiger waiting for? Maybe for the chance to eat the birds. 


THEMES:

-Delusions of mankind

-Our true nature

-Violence

-The power of nature

-Violence inside civility.

TONE:

– Judgy

-Disquieting

-Violent and menacing (in the end)