nUkiEmOLe poetRy of Others #16/ 09 fEb 2020
A Poison Tree, by William Blake (1794)
A Poison Tree, by 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 waterd 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 veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Summary of A Poison Tree
- Popularity: William Blake, a famous American poet, wrote “A Poison Tree”, a descriptive and straightforward poem about human emotions and their consequences. It was first published in Blake’s 1794 volume Songs of Experience. The poem illustrates the key human emotion, anger, and the consequences of being angry with someone. It also explains that anger becomes deadly and devious if it is not expressed honestly. However, the popularity of the poem lies in the fact that it deals with one of the common feelings of human life.
- “A Poison Tree” As a Representative of Hatred: The poet has discussed the duality of human nature in this poem. He says that his anger with his friend vanishes as soon as he expresses it. But he does not air his annoyance with his foe which grows and morphs into something poisonous. He further adds that he nurtures his anger with fear, resentments, sarcasm, and fake smiles. These feeling grow as a poison tree or a tree of anger, and a shiny fruit sprouts from the tree. One day, his enemy enters into his garden and dies after tasting this deceitful fruit. His death gives immense pleasure to the speaker.
- Major themes in “A Poison Tree”: Hatred, anger, revenge are the major themes of the poem. The poem discusses the catastrophic effects of unexpressed anger. The poet, very artistically, delves deep into the darker side of the human mind and captures the damage that anger does to the heart where it nourishes and becomes a poison. Blake explains that it is easy to forgive friends, but enemies are never forgiven. And, when a person tries to hide his hatred, it gradually grows into a mighty and destructive force.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “A Poison Tree”
Literary devices are tools that equip the writers to make their diction persuasive and stylish. They also convey their feelings, ideas, and emotions effectively. Blake has also employed some literary devices in this poem to show the negative impacts of anger. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been stated below.
- Antithesis: An antithesis is a figure of speech that refers to the juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas. Blake has used this device in the first The opening line focuses on telling a friend about anger, and it vanishes. The next two lines show the opposite act about hiding his anger from the enemy, and it grows. This is a juxtaposition of two contrasting ideas.
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /w/ in “I told my wrath, my wrath did end”.
- Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing or idea of a historical, cultural, political or literary significance. In this poem, “Garden”, “apple” and “tree” are the illusions of Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden.
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. There is only one extended metaphor used in this poem. It is used in the second line of the third stanza “Till it bore an apple bright.” Here the apple is the metaphor of the fruit of his grudge.
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal “Tree” symbolizes his wrath and anger whereas, “garden” is the symbol of the heart where the hatred is natured.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things with their five senses. William Blake has used visual imagery throughout the poem to make his reader create a mental picture such as, “And it grew both day and night.” “Till it bore an apple bright”, “My foe outstretched beneath the tree.”
The above analysis shows that Blake has beautifully employed these devices to show the negative impacts of anger. The appropriate and careful use of these devices has made the poem captivating and thoughtful for the readers.