Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

One of the things keeping me occupied, away from this blog, was a trip to Baton Rouge with my good friend, Leah. She has accepted an Executive Director position at LSU and will be commuting between her husband, here, and her job, there, for the next few years. During our recent trip we found her a comfortable place to live while she is working out the details of the new job and the commute.

I have spent a lot a time in South Louisiana in my life, both visiting family and with various jobs I've had, but I had never visited the LSU campus until this trip. Let me first say that the campus is beautiful. There are majestic old live oaks, lakes and stately buildings all around. I know that Texas is historically  considered "The South," but when you step onto the LSU campus, you know there's a difference; this really is "The South." It's in the atmosphere and in the way people speak; all slower, calmer and more fluid in nature. 

I worked for several years for The University of Texas at Austin, so I understand the concept of rabid, devoted sports fans very well. I know there are those who bleed burnt orange and will have the Longhorn logo carved on their tombstones. But even in this the LSU Tigers are different. Somehow it is more than just a devotion to sports and school. It is more like being a Tiger is part of their identity and souls, like the commitment to honor and chivalry was part of the Old South. The commitment is not questioned or divided, at least in Baton Rouge. Everyone is a Tiger and there are tigers everywhere. Literally. 

I took part of one afternoon to photograph tigers, on campus and off. My head was filled with William Blake's poem "The Tiger" the whole time, so here I have tried to recreate the dialog running through my head that afternoon.

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer, what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I told you they were everywhere. 

Apartment complexes . . .

Hotel lobbies . . .

and on every corner of the LSU campus.

I am afraid it's in my bloodstream now. I've watched LSU baseball twice since I've been home and found myself doing a search for the Tigers' fall football schedule. Even though "the eyes of Texas are upon me," I have to say it: Go Tigers. (Or, as my friend, Maureen, reminded me, Geaux Tigers!)


  1. Great post, Annette! I'm glad LSU's "Mike the Tiger" sank his teeth into your spirit.

  2. I met "Mike" last weekend!! My niece goes to LSU and I loved the tigers everywere but especially the very large-pawed in-the-flesh (er, fur) Mike. Beautiful campus, isn't it? Wow!