"The Great Fire of London" (artist unknown)‘Tiger Fire’ by Sally Sandler The Society January 26, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 27 Comments The fire waits with tiger paws on silent haunches by the hill, then mounts the rock with clinging claws, and contemplates the moment it will pounce—on sagebrush dry as bones, under a ghostly quiet moon, slink through tinder, stalking homes, and spring atop a shingled roof. In blazing orange black white cape it roars at scorching desert sky, dives on prey, devours the take, smoldering embers in its eye. We scan the canyons, fear the sight of fire—the tiger in the night. Sally Sandler is a writer and graduate of the University of Michigan. She lives in San Diego, California. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 27 Responses James Sale January 26, 2019 I like the execution of this very much – a tetrameter sonnet with some lovely mimetic touches: especially the stanza/line break where ‘pounce’ leaps away from its sentence, enacting the movement of the ‘tiger’ as our eyes jump forward. Very impressive work. Reply Sally Ray January 26, 2019 Thank you James! Sally Sandler Reply Carole Mertz January 26, 2019 Love this, Sally. Descriptive, with its zinger at the end! Reply Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 Thank you, Carole! Sally Sandler Reply James A. Tweedie January 26, 2019 I also love this poem. Whether intentional or not, the irregular metrics create a flickering effect, as if tiger-tongues of flame are nibbling at the edges of the verse. Curiously, to my ear at least, the poem is most effective when read out loud when it morphs into what it sounds like a successful, hybrid crossover between formal and free verse (a la Eliot). The sonnet structure adds emphasis to the drama of the closing couplet. This poem demonstrates that bending the “rules” a little can sometimes be a good thing! Reply Joseph S. Salemi January 26, 2019 Actually, there is only one instance of metrical irregularity in this poem, and it is in the fourth line. Every other line scans as a recognizable tetrameter. This suggests to me that line four is an error, not an intentional attempt to add irregularity to the poem. I’d suggest a revision of line four, perhaps in this manner: /and contemplates the time it will/ When you have a single metrical glitch in an otherwise perfect poem, it stands out like a wart. Reply James A. Tweedie January 26, 2019 By irregular metrics I was referring to lines 5, 7, 11, and 12 which lack the weak iambic opening found elsewhere, and also the extra syllable in line 12. My point was that these variations enhanced the poem, which is why I did not feel the need to be specific in making reference to them. Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 Thank you, James, that means much to me! Sally Sandler Reply Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 Thank you for taking the time to respond. It means much to me, as I’m sure you appreciate! Reply Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 Thank you, I’m thrilled to anywhere near the mention of Eliot. I appreciate your response! Reply Gleb Zavlanov January 26, 2019 “slink through tinder, stalking homes, and spring atop a shingled roof. In blazing orange black white cape.” I love these lines. They are so simple and yet so evocative. I never realized how close a fire resembles a tiger. Both are deadly and vicious but also bright, sleek and graceful. This is very original. Thank you for sharing! Reply Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 Thank you for your response! Reply Alan Sugar January 26, 2019 haunches / hills slink / tinder spring / shingle blazing / black roars / scorching scan / canyons fire / tiger I don’t know if this qualifies as “fearful symmetry” (William Blake), but you’ve got something going here. The poem’s sensibilities, for me, seem rooted in the essence of native lore. Arrestingly visual. An almost picture book quality– though not necessarily so “kid-friendly.” Many vivid verbs as well! Strangely, perhaps, it also brings to my mind Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Thank you for this poem. Reply Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 I’m happy anywhere in the vicinity of Kipling … thank you so much! Reply Joe Spring January 27, 2019 Yes! It is great symmetry! Great imagery and wordplay. Reply Sally Sandler January 26, 2019 Thank you, James! Sally Sandler Reply David Watt January 26, 2019 You have created the a vivid and lifelike picture, particularly, through your choice of verbs. I really liked the striking effect of the three colors, ‘orange black white’, in succession. I agree with the suggested simple revision to line four, as this was also my thought on first reading your poem. Thank you for this evocative piece. Reply E. V. January 26, 2019 Great poem! It’s a pleasure to read. Reply Mark Stone January 26, 2019 Sally, Hello. 1. Lines 1 & 2 read as follows: The fire waits with tiger paws on silent haunches by the hill, When I read these lines, I thought of “Fog” by Carl Sandburg, which reads as follows: The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. So you are in good company. 2. Line 1 and line 14 both have the word “Fire.” If one were to read each of these lines as having four iambic feet, “fire” in Line 1 would need to have two syllables, and “fire” in line 14 would need to have one syllable. When I read the poem out loud, I actually do say “fire” with two syllables in line 1, and with one syllable in line 14. So it seems to work as is. 3. Regarding line 4, I agree with Dr. Salemi’s comment about the meter and support his proposed fix. 4. Line 5 reads as follows: under a ghostly quiet moon, I wonder if the moon could be “aloof” instead of “quiet.” That would give you a true rhyme with “roof.” Here are a couple ideas: under a moon still and aloof, under a moon hushed and aloof, Other possible rhyme words include “fireproof” and “reproof.” Here’s one possibility: pounce—on sagebrush dry as bones, immune to hindrance or reproof, slink through tinder, stalking homes, and spring atop a shingled roof. 5. Line 9 reads as follows: In blazing orange black white cape The meter is off for me in this line, but it’s because I pronounce “orange” as “ornge,” i.e., as a one-syllable word. Since no one else mentioned this, perhaps you and they pronounce it with two syllables. 6. Almost every line has an article (a, an or the) before the noun. Lines 9 and 10 do not. Line 9 has “in… cape” and line 10 has “at… sky.” Leaving out the article sometimes makes a line sound awkward to me, but I may be in the minority on this. 7. The sonics of the poem are awesome. Alan provides many examples, and I’ll add “clinging claws.” 8. The strong verbs and colorful adjectives make this a fun poem. I like it. Reply Joe Spring January 27, 2019 4. Good input this. And the rest, but particularly this. Reply James A. Tweedie January 27, 2019 Mark, I also read orange as one syllable but looked it up and found it does, indeed, have two. Language can be quite bendy at times, as you pointed out with the word “fire.” And what reads perfectly well for a person in India, the UK or Australia, can seem out of kilter to a West Coast Yank like myself. Reply Monty January 28, 2019 My sudden shock, James, is in the fact that you had to “look up” the word ‘orange’ to verify that it’s got two syllables . . you could’ve verified that just by pausing for a moment and saying the word slowly and clearly to yourself. Language can not “be quite bendy at times”: it can only be ‘bended’ . . bended by humans in their sloppy attempts to gain a non-existent syllable when convenience dictates; perfectly exemplified in the fact that some authors will think nothing of expecting a reader to wrongly pronounce the word ‘fire’ as ‘fie-yer’. Therein lies ‘language-bending’ in its purest form . . Mark Stone January 26, 2019 Sally, Hi. I just thought of another option for line 6: averse to hindrance or reproof, The word “averse” reinforces the notion that the fire is alive and has a mind of its own, I think. Reply Joe Spring January 27, 2019 Hi Sally, I read the poem for my wife and we both really enjoyed it. Thank you! Reply C.B. Anderson January 27, 2019 Sally, YOU are the tiger burning bright. Your poem set my mind ablaze. I wish I knew how to use metaphor and image so effectively. Shine on, Tiger Moon! And come back soon. Joe Salemi’s comment is the one you should pay most attention to. He has guided me in the past, and he’s never led me astray. Reply Joe Tessitore January 27, 2019 For me, this is the perfect example of “one rhyme doesn’t? Big deal!” Terrific poem – very well done! Reply Angela January 28, 2019 So descriptive, I could almost feel the flames. I really enjoyed reading this – more than once 🙂 Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.