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A Poison Tree
Transcript of A Poison Tree
The tone of the poem is bitter and filled with malice, indicating the speaker's obsessiveness
Each line in the first stanza begins with "I", suggesting that the speaker is obsessed with himself
Each stanza after the first stanza begins with "And", thereby increasing the obsessive nature of the poem
the language of the poem is simple and easy to follow
A Poison Tree
by William Blake
More about William Blake
The following year Robert appeared to Blake and presented him with "illuminated'' printing
In 1800, Blake accepted and invitation from poet William Hayley to move Felpham to be his protege
Blake was accused of sedition when he tried to demand a solider to leave the property and in January 1804 he was acquitted
In 1804 he began to publish his work which was met with silence
He began to publish less and he sank deeper into poverty, obscurity and paranoia
Between 1823 and 1825 he remained artistically busy, engraving 21 designs from the Book of Job and Dante's Inferno
In his final years he suffered from bouts of an undiagnosed disease
He died on August 12, 1827
Since then Blake has become a giant in literary and artistic circles
Plot and Dramatic Situation
A man held anger against his friend, but his anger ended yet the anger he held against his foe grew
He nourished his anger with tears, smiles, and wiles
His hatred resulted in an apple, which his neighbor stole
When his foe ate the apple he died, and the man was happy to see his foe dead
Change of good and evil in the man and the foe
Emotions can easily change people
This poem is a didactic poem, which means its primary purpose is to teach or preach things, such as an inspirational lesson, while still being considered poetry
The poem has four quatrains, and each quatrain has two couplets, with a rhyme scheme of AABB
The poem has iambic tetrameter and trochaic trimeter
About William Blake
Born on November 28, 1757 in the Soho district of London, England
At an early age, he began to experience visions
Mostly educated at home by his mother
At age 10 he was enrolled at Henry Pars's drawing school because of his artistic abilities
At age 14 he was apprenticed to an engraver for 7 years
During his apprenticeship his love for Gothic art was seeded and he rejected 18th century literary trends
In 1779 he was admitted into the Royal Academy of Art's Schools of Design where he began to exhibit his own work
In August 1782, he married Catherine Sophia Boucher, who was illiterate
In 1787, Robert, Blake's brother died and he allegedly saw his spirit ascend
This poem uses metaphors and personification to convey the poets thoughts on human nature. This is done by comparing a growing tree to the man's anger in the poem. His wrath grows and is "watered until it bears fruit". The growing and nurturing of a tree is compared to the feeding of hate explored by the speaker. The lines, “And I watered it …with my tears” & “And I sunned it with smiles” describe how he was nurturing it.
The apple is a symbol for sin and adds to the biblical allusion of Adam and Eve. The apple is a product of hate, Like in the biblical story man gives in to the temptation of sin and falls. "... Till it bore an apple bright. And my foe beheld it shine. And he knew that it was mine", It is also symbolic of the hidden wrath growing within the speaker
The Garden is also a biblical allusion which just as in the story it was meant to be a place of life and prosperity, yet by the end it was where the sinful act took place.
It is also Ironic because the thief's act in stealing Ironically results in his death
The shift between good and evil is also ironic. By the end of the poem the speaker is "glad" that the foe is dead. This is used to show how strong all those emotions were and how they warped his mind. By the end of the poem the question that comes to mind is "Who committed the greater sin?"
Night is personified by saying it is able to cover the "pole" which is an allusion to the north star which is said to guide people safely. By having it hidden this foreshadows danger for the the foe who "stole" into the garden.
Also, the speaker states "In the morning glad I see My foe outstretched beneath the tree." Glad is ambiguous because it can be understood as "the morning is glad," or it can refer to the speaker's when he sees his foe dead.
The choice of words such as Poison reflects how it is seen as harmful and deadly. In contrast, trees are used to represent life and the growth of humanity.
Friend and foe are also two contradicting words along with end and grow
These add to Blake's point of the debate in either purging the wrath or harboring it until it grows and festers.
By using the word stole, he is indirectly implying that he views his foe as a thief.
The suppression of anger will lead to its accumulation, and cultivation as represented by the apple in the poem
The tree was nourished by the speaker's wrath, and it bore the fruit of his wrath
The foe stole the apple and when he took a bite, he fell dead because it was poisoned by the speaker's wrath
Rhyme Scheme and structu
In lines 7-8:"And I sunnéd it with smiles, / And with soft deceitful wiles,'' the author uses euphoney when the soft “s” sounds are repeated, which gives the lines a more deceitful, softer and cunning tone.
makes it sound like a nursery rhyme meant to teach kids about the consequences of anger
He also uses alliteration in lines 9-10, "And it grew both day and night/ Till it bore an apple bright," with the repetition of the letter B
The author also uses anaphora when he starts almost half of the poem's lines with the word "and''
Sound Devices Continued
The poet also uses euphony, which is a smooth, pleasant-sounding choice and arrangement of sounds, which is heard throughout the poem, making it sound like a nursery rhyme meant to teach kids about the consequences of anger.
Angela M. Luna