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ONE THING LEADS to another. For instance, the DownToEarth website had a fascinating item “Why Do Tigers Have Stripes?” This in turn reminded me of The Tyger’s “fearful symmetry” in William Blake’s poem. And, just to show I’m not all that stuffy, the next thing that popped into mind was Winnie the Pooh’s pal Tigger. Here are tidbits on all three of these varied members of Panthera tigris.
Adapted for Colorblind Prey. In the DownToEarth website, November 25, 2020, zoological veterinarian Andrew Cushing writes, “Since tigers are apex predators at the top of the food chain, they don’t need to hide from animals that might eat them. They are carnivores—they eat meat—and they rely on stealth to hunt successively.”
“They’re helped,” Cushing continues, “by the limited vision of their preferred prey. Deer and other hoofed animals can’t see the full range of colours, much like a colourblind human.”
In particular, the human eye can process red, green, and blue, “so to us,” Cushing notes, “a tiger looks orange. Deer can process only green and blue.”
This helps hooved animals see better in dim light. However, to a deer’s eye, “the tiger’s fur isn’t bright orange; it looks green and matches the background.”
Unique Camouflage. Cushing observes that the tiger’s “vertical stripes, which range from brown to black, are an example of what biologists call disruptive colouration. They help to break up the cat’s shape and size so it blends in with trees and tall grasses.”
Cushing says that a tiger’s stripe pattern “is unique, just like a zebra’s…. They’re as distinctive as human fingerprints.” Indeed, he notes, “It’s not just their fur that’s inked with black stripes. When we have to sedate a tiger to treat an injury or do dental work, we shave their fur. It’s always surprising to see that their skin almost looks like it’s been tattooed: It has the same striped pattern as its fur!”
What’s more, a tiger’s stripes aren’t necessarily the same on both sides.
What of William Blake’s “Fearful Symmetry”?? According to Wikipedia, Blake’s The Tyger poem “is one of the most anthologised in the English literary canon.” “Much of the poem,” Wikipedia observes, “follows the metrical pattern of its first line and can be scanned as trochaic tetrameter catalectic. A number of lines, however, such as line four in the first stanza, fall into iambic tetrameter.”
Blake changes this first stanza’s “Could frame thy fearful symmetry” with the last stanza’s “Dare frame thy fearful symmetry.” Discuss.
Wikipedia says, “The poem explores and questions Christian religious paradigms prevalent in late 18th century and early 19th century England, discussing God’s intention and motivation for creating both the tiger and the lamb.”
A.A. Milne’s (and Disney’s) Creation. A.A. Milne’s The House on Pooh Corner, 1928, is a sequel to his Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926. This second book also introduces Pooh’s pal Tigger. Walt Disney brought Pooh to cinema in Winnie Pooh and the Honey Tree,1966; Tigger joined in 1968’s Winnie Pooh and the Blustery Day.
Tigger often refers to himself in the third person plural: “Tiggers don’t like honey.” “Bouncing is what Tiggers do best” He’s also known for this boundless enthusiasm, which occasionally exasperates other residents of the Hundred Acre Wood.
Another view of Tigger is contained in a classic (2007) psychological analysis of him cited in David Batty’s “Do We Really Want to Know Whether Tigger Suffers From ADHD?” Batty is reviewing Laura James’ book Tigger on the Couch, 2007, which offers diagnoses of characters ranging from Alice’s Queen of Hearts (exhibiting “acquired situational narcissism”) to Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell (with “borderline personality disorder”) to Tigger’s Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Batty finds all this psychobabble less than appealing: “As it stands,” he writes, “the book falls flat with its knowingly, faux po-faced gravitas. James comes off as someone who might give lectures at orphanages to explain that Father Christmas doesn’t exist.”
I wonder what he’d think of Dorothy Parker’s review of The House at Pooh Corner: “Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.” ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021.