Poison Tree by William Blake

My dear students (5AN,AS,AM). Wish you the best of time for this sem break. This is for you and the rest of you readers. Have fun holidaying!!

A Poison Tree – William Blake

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

MEANING OF DIFFICULT WORDS

  1. Wrath – strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.
  2. Deceit – distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; duplicity; fraud; cheating
  3. Wiles – Trick, trap
  4. Veiled – conceal, lacking clarity or distinctness

POETIC/LITERARY DEVICES

  1. Personification

–       Waters the wrath with fear

–        I told my wrath, my wrath did end

  1. Metaphor 

-The tree is considered as a wrath/anger

-“Till it bore an apple bright”, the apple is a metaphor for the “fruit” of his grudge.

  1. Alliteration 

-sunned and smiles

-friend and foe

-bore and bright

  1. Imagery

– Throughout the poem

  1. Irony

-the foe beneath the tree of hatred

  1. Repetition

-“I was angry with my friend… I was angry with my foe”

  1. Allusion

-“Garden.. apple…tree” alludes to Adam & Eve, the Garden of Eden.

STANZA BY STANZA ANALYSIS

Stanza 1: The persona speaks of someone, his friend and his foe, whom he is angry with. When he says ‘I told my wrath, my wrath did end’ after he said he was angry with his friend, he is saying he was able to get over being angry with his friend and forgot about it. Although, it is quite the opposite when he mentions’ I told it not, and my wrath did grow’. The persona is saying that with his enemy, he allows himself to get angry, and therefore, his wrath does grow.

Stanza 2: In this stanza, the persona begins to make his anger grow and he takes pleasure in it, comparing his anger with something, in this case, a tree or plant. The speaker says he ‘sunned it with smiles’ and ‘and with soft, deceitful wiles’. This means he is creating an illusion with his enemy saying he is pretending to be friendly to seduce and bring him closer.

Stanza 3: ‘And it grew both day and night’ and ‘til it bore an apple bright’ are meaning that his illusion with his enemy is growing and growing until it became a strong and tempting thing. His illusion has a metaphor and it is an apple. After, his foe believes it shines, which means he thinks it’s true and means something, and takes the persona’s illusion seriously. ‘And he knew it was mine’ suggests that he really thinks the persona is his friend.

Stanza 4: Being the last stanza, the persona needed to come up with a conclusion. He has used the two lines ‘in the morning glad I see’ and ‘my foe outstretched beneath the tree’ to say that his foe finally fell to his tempting illusion and metaphorically, consumed his poison apple and died. So, obviously, his malicious intentions were hidden behind illusion and he prevailed over his enemy.

CRITICAL APPRECIATION

In the first stanza, the consequence of allowing anger to continue instead of stopping it as it begins is shown. This consequence is simply that it will continue to grow. However, as the poem progresses, it is seen that this continued growth of anger can yield harmful results as the enemy, or foe, is lured toward the tree and eats of its fruit, the poison apple. This kills his foe, as he is seen outstretched beneath the tree, a sight the speaker is glad to see the next morning. These final two lines explain one of the main themes of the poem, which is that anger leads to self-destruction. The speaker’s anger grows and eventually becomes so powerful that it has changes from simple anger with another person, to desire to see them dead. One of the subjects of the persona’s work was the underworld, or Hell, and knowing this, it can be seen that the destruction which results from anger is not physical, but spiritual. In addition, the death of the foe, which the speaker is glad to see, does not spiritually affect the foe as the speaker is affected, but only physically harms the foe.

Exercise

1. Why did the persona’s wrath end when he told his friend about it?

2. What happened when he did not tell his foe?

3. How did the persona nurture his wrath?

4. Why is ‘and’ repeated three times in stanza 2?

5. What type of literary device is used in ‘soft deceitful wiles’? Why?

6. What does the poem’s title suggest about the content?

7. In your opinion, what is the persona really doing in stanza 2?

 

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