Tiger, Tiger, burning dim,
In the zoo, what’s wrong with im?
Don’t glow no more in the dark,
’As ’e lost ’is spark?
Tiger, Tiger, in his cage,
Only simulate rage,
Now he goes to sleep at night,
No more burn, and no more bite.
Tiger, Tiger, growing old,
Winter nights round here are cold,
Freezing in the snow and frost,
His eyes are vacant, his soul lost.
In the early morning mist
Tiger’s brain has reminisced
Of a former time and place,
Tears are rolling down his face.
How he longs for warmer climbs,
And those happy, hunting times,
In the Asian jungles deep,
’Tis for them the Tiger weeps.
Running, laughing, loud and free,
Stalking prey so skilfully,
Master in his own domain,
Now only memories remain.
Through the cru-el iron bars,
Children with their Ma’s and Pa’s
Laugh at Tiger, “Look at that,
Such a funny pussy cat!”
Faded orange, faded black,
Hid inside his winter shack,
Time to come out Tiger son,
Give the crowds their daily fun.
Tiger, Tiger, lying stiff,
On the floor, now in relief,
Tiger’s eyes are closed for good,
And he’s back there in the wood.
Hunting in the dark, he burns,
Like a shadow, silent turns,
Master in his own domain
And ever shall remain.
Mr Smith the Keeper cries,
“Poor old fellow”; wipes his eyes,
“Never should”, he says in rage,
“Keep freeborn creatures in a cage”.
[Originally published in VIRIDIAN.]
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