The Message Behind "A Poison Tree"

1250 words - 5 pages

William Blake was a first generation Romantic poet. He lived a long life in which he wrote a copious amount of poetry (Eaves). Blake was also a painter. This aided Blake’s advancing symbolism; he could paint a lovely picture with his words (Eaves). The poem that I have analyzed is A Poison Tree. Blake strategically placed imagery and personification to hide his underlying truth; do not store up anger because horrible situations will arise. At first glance the poem seems hate filled and that he just wrote it out of revenge or angst, but in reality he is teaching a moral lesson that should be taken very seriously.
Blake’s structure in the poem is interesting in its symbolism. He wrote A Poison Tree in four stanzas. Upon first glance it seems he only did this because it fit his rhyme scheme. With further analysis and in depth understanding, the stanzas symbolize the four seasons of life. The speaker’s emotions of hate and anger also follow the cycle of the seasons.
Spring is a time for youth and immaturity, plants are just a thought. The speaker is angry with his friend, yet they soon overcome this problem. Then the speaker is angry with his foe, he does not tell his foe of this anger so it grows more and more each day (Grimes). Imagery and personification is used throughout the first stanza. When the speaker says “my wrath did end” I got this vivid picture of someone who was turning beat red and had steam coming out of his ears, then it was abruptly cut off and he was happy once again. Then in the last sentence of the first stanza the speaker says “my wrath did grow” this has brought about an image of someone who is so mad yet is stretching at the same time, almost as if to reach the sky, his wrath is taking over.
Summer is a time for adulthood, plants are growing and adjusting to their surroundings, just as a person would. In this stanza the speaker has emotionally nourished his wrath (Eden). There is a contrast in imagery, a cold, lonely, melancholy feeling comes about when the speaker says the lines “And I watered it in fears night and morning with my tears.” The tears could be from the speaker’s fear of his wrath which is plausible or they could come from the pure wrath that he feels towards his foe. The speaker is so overcome by emotion that he can’t hold it any longer. The other image is that of warmth but tainted by hate when the speaker says “And I sunned it with smiles, and with soft deceitful wiles.” Sunned brings about images of yellow and warmth but the smiles and deceitful wiles bring up images of trickery. The speaker is trying to fool the foe into believing he likes him by acting nice (the smiles) yet he is all the while tricking him with lies (deceitful wiles).
Autumn is a time for harvest, to pluck the sweet apple from the tree. The obvious imagery and personification in this stanza is when the speaker is talking about his foe “till it [the tree] bore an apple bright.” Most shiny or attractive objects grab on to our...

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