The Poison Within Essay

1491 words - 6 pages

On November 28, 1757 in the large bustling town of London, England; James and Catherine Blake welcomed their son William Blake into the world (Paananen xix-xxi). A happy and powerfully imaginative child, William was one of five (Bedard 8-14). Contrary to what his linguistic talents may dictate he received no formal education, due to his parents’ intense religious beliefs and hesitations to branch beyond their sect, in regards to education (Bedard 8-14). William was however taught basic reading and writing skills by his mother (Bedard 8-14). At the age of ten he was enrolled in the Paris Drawing School where he learned the basics of drawing (Bedard 8-14). Many years later on August 18, 1782 he married Catherine Boucher, an uneducated maid (Bedard 8-14). Though a seemingly unlikely couple, they remained faithful to each other until William’s death on August 12, 1827 (Paananen xix-xxi). He was buried in an unmarked grave in Bunhill Fields with the rights of the Church of England (Paananen xix-xxi).
My assigned poem is entitled A Poison Tree, by William Blake. The poem begins as such: angry with an enemy, the speaker stealthily plots the perfect revenge. He completely hides his motives as his plan grows and matures into an item of lust for the foe. Unable to contain his desires, the foe, under the cover of night seeks the item. The next morning the speaker finds his foe vulnerable and anticipating his arrival.
Before delving any deeper into this poem and its meaning, a few basic questions must be answered first. I believe the speaker to be William Blake himself. I am able to infer this from the repeated use of the pronoun “I.” Thought the course of the poem, the speaker’s temperament changes. At the start of the poem the speaker seems young and childish, almost innocent (Novelguide, 1996). However, as the poem progresses the speaker becomes more cunning and crafty as he begins to set his trap for his foe. Finally at the end of the poem, the speaker exudes almost an evil air as he sees his foe left open in a vulnerable position. All the while, the speaker is not addressing anyone specifically; he is merely recounting his feelings and actions in a narrative like fashion. The poem appears to take place over a series of weeks, possibly months at most, outside, at which time the season of spring helps demonstrate a juxtaposition between the intense thoughts and planning occurring within the speaker, versus his calm exterior and the similarity of the occurring season. Another take on the poem is that the said events are occurring only in Blake’s mind and are not being manifested in reality. This poem reflects a timeless human emotion of revenge and justice.
The intensity and meaning of the poem is not only evident thru word choice, but also thru the evolution of the syntax and diction. Beginning with the first quatrain the pronoun “I” begins every line which implies elementary thought and concepts; as does the use of a colon at the end of the first...

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