Tiger, Tiger

It has happened. The humble umbrella has “shooed” away the terrible tiger. According to a report from Kuala Trengganu in North Malaya two men drove away a tiger just by brandishing an umbrella. “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright; In the Forests of the Night what Immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?” rhetorically asked William Blake.

The fearful symmetry has been put to flight by a mere umbrella. This is as it should be. The time had come when the poor umbrella had to be rehabilitated. Through the centuries the umbrella has been taken for granted and carried about. Occasionally, it has been used to deflect the course of careening bulls or romping dogs but that was understood to be the limit of the umbrella’s authority in the animal world.

In ages past the umbrella was regarded as a symbol of power and royal authority and though m en understood the significance of the White Umbrella well enough the animal world was ignorant in this respect. It is now expected that the Malayan tiger chased away by the humble umbrella will spread the word o others of his ilk and warn them of the power of the symbol.

An umbrella had become a sign of peace at any price and appeasement at all times. Such generalisations have been unjust to the umbrella as the Malayan umbrella has proved for it has tamed into a shameful exit one of the most ferocious of the denizens of the tropical wilds. In decades past paper-tigers were pleased with the sight of the neatly folded umbrella; now a real tiger is terrified of it. Certainly both the umbrella and the tiger have changed.

(EDIT, August 14, 1958.)

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