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Interpreting “The Sick Rose,””The Lost Boy,” “The Poison Tree”

Dec 30, 2022 | 0 comments

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Dec 30, 2022 | Essays | 0 comments

The Sick Rose.

The Sick Rose is an ancient poem by William Blake. It is a relatively short poem with simple language. My interpretation is that the poem talks about love and death. Roses are significantly used to portray love, but in the poem, the Rose is being destroyed by the worm in the night. Blake is talking about the spread of a bad thing, a worm that destroys a good thing. The worm is also said to spread only at night. The night here is a symbol of a secret. It could be a symbol of infidelity that destroys a relationship. The poem is symbolic, beginning with its title, ‘the sick rose.’ The Rose here is a metaphor for love, love that is ill or sick. The term worm, as used in the poem, refers to a disease called infidelity unknowingly transmitted at night. The lines ‘has found out thy bed, of crimson joy, and his dark secret love is referring to a married man fornicating with a prostitute and then going back to his wife. ‘And his dark secret love which thy life destroy,’ means that because syphilis spreads to the child, the child’s life is lost.

The Sick Rose adopts the ABCB rhyme scheme; in the first stanza, the rhyming lines illustrate the intention of the worm, which is to destroy the Rose. The poem’s first line, ‘O Rose, thou art sick,’ informs the reader that the Rose is sick and cannot be treated. A look at the third line in the same first stanza, the worm is said to work in darkness. As mentioned earlier, darkness is symbolic of secrets (Malla 3). The worm is deceitful and goes behind Rose’s back to destroy it. The second Stanza illustrates the ABCB rhyme scheme. The stanza shows that that worm finally destroyed the Rose. Using the bed illustrates a sexualized atmosphere where the worm finds Rose’s bed and destroys its life because Rose is very sick.

My interpretation of the poem is a relationship destroyed by acts of infidelity. A worm is a symbol of infidelity transmitted by an infidelity partner. The infidelity partner commits their acts in secrecy and eventually destroys the whole relationship and the other partner’s happiness. The innocent partner is sick and joyful because of the worm (infidelity partner). The darkness is a representation of a relationship on the rocks. Therefore, the faithful partner cannot see what the worm is doing.

The Sick Rose shows that love is beautiful and can be destroyed by the smallest mistake. Destroying love always hurts the other person; the Rose is being destroyed, in this case, by the worm. The sick Rose is drawn from a collection of poems called the Songs of Experiences. The reality evidences this it portrays. Relationships are not easy, and most of the time never meet expectations. The poem is not imaginative; it is a realistic account of love.

From the religious point of view, I thought the worm in the poem was symbolic of a snake, the sin that eats away the Rose or the good in people. The worm is the devil that is cunning and lies to Eve in the Garden of Eden. The worm corrupts the Rose and ruins its life for good. The Rose is cast away because of sin.

The Lost Boy.

Little Boy Lost is another poem by William Blake. The poem does not give any information about its background setting; it creates a mist of suspense. The poem is about a boy who gets lost in the woods, thinking he is following his father. A small boy follows a will-o-the-wisp, mistaking it for his father. He found himself alone and frightened in a deep mire of confusion. In the first stanza, the boy pleads with the father asking him to speak to him and to walk slowly or else he will lose his way. The boy gets lost in the second stanza; he finds himself alone and cold. He cries, but his father is nowhere to help him.

The poem describes the world’s experiences and the cruelty children are born with. Parents should guide their children so they don’t get lost. In the poem, however, the father is all quiet when the boy asks him to speak to him. The father is ignorant and arrogant and turns his back on the boy and walks too fast for the boy to keep up with the pace. The father is not sympathetic. A father is generally expected to be a guardian angel to the child and walk side by side with the child until he can walk alone. In the poem, the father does the exact opposite.

The line in the poem, ‘The night was dark, no father was there,’ is symbolic. The night is always dark; therefore, this line is not referring to the night but the world. Father in the poem is an illusion for guidance; the child wishes for guidance, or otherwise, he will be lost. The boy is calling for a guide to choose the right path. The child, however, realizes in the second stanza that there is no father, and he becomes wet with dew. The word dew is a symbol of materialist pleasure. The last sentence, ‘And away the vapor disappears.’ Vapor is also symbolic. The child is lost since there is no father to guide him; he gets lost in worldly pleasure and darkness. The vapor is the little righteousness that the child had; in the end, the vapor dies away. The poem’s message towards the end, when the child is aware of the predicament that he is in but has no father to help him, is but left the wilderness of the world to figure himself out.

The Poison Tree.

The Poison Tree is a poem by William Blake that explains the nature of human beings. The poison tree is a metaphor that is eye-catching to the reader. Reading through the poem, the reader can understand that anger can be displayed as goodwill or nurtured to destroy. The poem begins by alluding that the speaker is angry with a friend; he, however, speaks to the friend, and the matter is resolved, and therefore, the anger is resolved (Zamzia & Heidar 114). The speaker is also angry with the enemy this time. However, he does not speak to the enemy; in return, the anger grows. The anger towards the enemy is watered though the speaker acknowledges the fear he had within himself as he watered the anger. The poem poison tree adopts the use of several metaphors. These metaphors explain how anger is nurtured, such as from the line ‘watered….’. The metaphors are used to compare the growth of anger to the feeding nature of a tree. Blake uses several metaphors that reflect the growth and nurturing of a tree which compares to the feeding of hate and vanity explored by the speaker. He is forced to wear a plastic smile whenever he meets the foe as he quietly plots revenge. In the final stanza, the anger is full-blown and bears fruit which is the death of his foe.

As Willian Martin( Martin 5) explains, the tree represents the speaker, and its growth is personified by the anger that grows within him. The tree grows and bears fruits; this means the speaker’s anger has grown and bears fruit by his killing the enemy. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker agrees to the fact that the anger within him is him is growing. He further describes how his anger grows and says it grows both day and night and later bears fruit. Using this figurative language illustrates the speaker’s recognition of the anger within him as a deadly poisonous tree.

I can connect to the poem personally; most of the time, when angry, I don’t usually speak about it. On most occasions, I don’t usually have any idea how to handle my anger, so I choose to keep it to myself. However, I have learned to let go instead of bottling it in because of the after-consequences. The first and second lines in stanza one have taught me that when I am angry, I should express my feelings to help let go.

This poem applies to all human beings, especially those struggling with anger management. They have two choices: express their anger by talking about it or bottle it up and eventually hurt another person. Blake has employed imagery, figurative language, and metaphors to express his opinion. The poem is simple with very deep meaning attached to our human nature and life events. The poison tree presents both a positive and negative tone through the description of anger.

Works Cited.

Heidar, Davood, and Zamzia, Davoud. “A deconcontruuctional Reading of William’s Blake A poison Tree.” The Southeast Journal of Language and English Studies, Vol 18(4).

Malla, Noelia. “O Rose Thou Art Sick’ :Floral sysmbolismin William Blakes’s Poetry.Journals of Arts and Humanities (JAH),2014.

Martin, William. “The Unspoken Voice in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.” International Journal of Language and Literature:2013.

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