William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” takes the reader through the growth process of anger. Blake explores the nature of anger in two situations, one where the speaker is angry with a friend and one where the speaker is angry with an enemy. He uncovers the darker side of the nature of anger and how it can grow into something detrimental, inhumane, and deadly. Along with his use of metaphors and symbolism, Blake’s representation of a bitter, angry atmosphere full of wrath, gives the reader insight into the consequences of hatred.
The first stanza provides important information that is carried through the entire poem. Here the reader is introduced to two different scenarios about the same issue. The speaker is angry with his friend. Blake writes, “I told my wrath, my wrath did end.”(Blake line 2). He talked it over with his friend and his anger vanished. In lines three and four, the speaker is angry with his enemy. He did not talk the situation over with his foe, he held in his anger. Thus begins the journey and growth of anger.
Anger is an emotion t is fed. The speaker feeds his anger with “fears” and “tears” (Lines 5-6). Through the use of metaphors, the speaker is likening his anger to a plant. Behind a mask of sunny smiles, “And I sunned it with smiles,” the reader can almost feel the revenge that is being plotted (Line 7). In the next line, the speaker refers to deceitful wiles. He is letting the reader know that his smiles are fake and he is being deceptive to his enemy all the while his anger is growing. Plants are normally represented as symbols of life; however, Blake is comparing it to growing anger nourished with emotions.
Anger grows day and night. It does not stop because of activit...
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... for sin. As Adam and Eve gave in to the weakness of sin, so did the foe and the speaker in Blake’s poem.
“A Poison Tree” was written in an AABB rhyming scheme. This scheme provides a nice flow throughout the poem. The use of figurative language expressed his point that ugly emotions can distort something beautiful into something horrible. Blake’s poetry is simple and easy to understand. The poem provides a warning of the dangers of suppressing our emotions. It is better to get everything out in the open than to allow seeds to nourish under emotions of hate and fear.
Blake, William. "A Poison Tree." Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. 62-63. Print.
Life Application Study Bible: New International Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1997. Print.
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