February 1st is the start of the lunar new year – The Year of the Tiger.
Every year the artist Dorit Ely creates a collage card showing the spirit of that year’s animal.
In the year 1789 William Blake published The Songs of Innocence. His tyger still burns bright.
Joohee Yoon relights the burning tiger in her book Beastly Verse from Enchanted Lion. Yoon’s tiger pulses with energy. She uses a limited palette – the colors vibrate. The shadows of the forest become the stripes of the tiger. The page folds out. First you see mostly the forest, then open the gatefold to reveal the rest of the tiger with fearful asymmetry.
Morris Hirshfield’s tiger radiates energy through the curving stripes of the beast, framed by the curving lines of the sky. This tiger is bigger than any mere tree, bigger than the hills.
Straight lines can be energetic too. Tiger leaps with big paws onto this soft rug, this new year.
This quizzical feline might not be a tiger. He wonders.
He is painted by Tatiana Mavrina. Her joyful style always reminds me to be free when painting.
Today’s tiger journey ends with another visit to William Blake.
The poet Nancy Willard was inspired by Blake’s Songs of Innocence, and created an imaginary inn belonging to him. She wrote A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. The book is subtly, delicately, delightfully illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Their tiger will lead us into 2022 and the rest of our lives.
Blake Leads A Walk on the Milky Way by Nancy Willard
He gave silver shoes to the rabbit
and golden gloves to the cat
and emerald boots to the tiger and me
and boots of iron to the rat.
He inquired, “Is everyone ready?
The night is uncommonly cold.
We’ll start on our journey as children,
but I fear we shall finish it old.”