For Mr. Styron, success came early. He was 26 when “Lie Down in Darkness,” his first novel, was published in 1951. It was a brooding, lyrical meditation on a young Southern girl’s suicide, as viewed during her funeral by members of her family and their friends. In the narrative, language plays as important a role as characterization, and the debt to Faulkner in general and “The Sound and the Fury” in particular was obvious. A majority of reviewers praised the novel for its power and melodiousness — although a few complained of its morbidity and its characters’ lack of moral stature — and the book established Mr. Styron as a writer to be watched.
What is certain is that “The Tyger,” being one of his Songs of Experience , represents one of two “contrary states of the human soul” -- “experience” perhaps in the sense of disillusionment being contrary to “innocence” or the naivete of a child. In the penultimate stanza, Blake brings the tyger round to face his counterpart in Songs of Innocence , “ The Lamb ,” asking “Did he smile his work to see? / Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” The tyger is fierce, frightening and wild, yet part of the same creation as the lamb, docile and endearing. In the final stanza, Blake repeats the original burning question, creating a more powerful awe by substituting the word “dare” for “could”: