The poem begins with an explanation of a tiger that is very beautiful and is walking in his little cage. He has beau tiful stripes on his skin and has velvet like soft paws. This poem contrasts a tiger when it is in its natural habitat and when it is caged in a zoo.
The tiger is unhappy, dissatisfied and quite angry for being kept in the cage. The poet says that if the tiger was not restricted to the zoo cage, he would have been hiding himself behind the long grass near some water body to catch its prey that is the deer. Also, he would have terrorized the residents of the villages around the area.
But in reality it is totally different as he was confined to a cage and was a captive. The cage was well-built with strong building material and he was powerless there. He could not show his power to the visitors and could not terrorize them.
The tiger was powerless and tortured by the poet. He says that during night also he was alone, hearing the voice of the patrolling police vehicles and looking at the stars. The cage life had totally changed its personality.
The poet is trying to say that the animal which is known for its daring and liberty is restrained in the cage and is sad for being deprived of its freedom by being kept in the zoo cage.