A Poison Tree

110

William Blake’s Interpretation of the Effects of Unsolved Problems as Illustrated in His Poem, a Poison Tree

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

In Williams Blake’s “A Poison Tree” from his wildly popular work Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul (1794), Blake addresses the “poisonous” results of issues gone unresolved. The poem’s title is entirely fitting in that it provides a metaphor for the results of anger. In this work, the narrator first explains that after revealing his discontent with his friend, “[his] wrath did end.” But when he withheld his anger, it grew like a tree, being watered in “fears” and “tears” and sunned by “smiles” and “wiles.” This anger led to the creation of a tree– a tree with a shining, poisonous apple. As the narrator’s foe desired the fruit of the tree, he snuck in under the cover of night to steal it. The man woke to find his enemy lying “outstretched beneath the tree,” killed by the poison apple. This apple, germinated by the man’s suppressed anger, ultimately led to his enemy’s demise.

I believe that Blake created this work to shed light on the results of withheld anger. Harboring a grudge will cause it to grow in scale, and it will ultimately have a bitter end. By quickly addressing a problem, the magnanimity of it is lessened; on the other hand, if left alone, it will grow a “poison apple.” This poem seems to serve as a simplified example of the issues associated with anger. It teaches that frustration must be dealt with immediately or the results will be incredibly harsh. While the poem was written in the late eighteenth century, the central idea of the work is applicable to any time period. History shows that mankind has always struggled with unresolved issues; many of our wars have been the escalated results of originally trivial issues. The narrator’s attitude in this work is that of judgment and vengeance. He ultimately seems glad to have caused his foe’s death. Blake, however, is actually using the man to shed light on the negatives of withholding anger, and he himself adapts a vaguely didactic tone. Blake succeeds in teaching this lesson through the use of a metaphor: a tree and its fruit. By doing so, he is able to exaggerate the effects of emotions. The personification he uses goes hand in hand with the metaphor; the narrator waters and suns the poison tree with his emotions, and his wrath physically grows. The imagery created with these poetic devices is vibrant. A reader can imagine the actual growth of the tree and its fruits, as well as the man eating it. The metaphor makes it much easier to truly understand the effects of bottled-up emotion.

William Blake’s A Poison Tree is held in high regards by much of the literary world due to its skillful design and philosophical content. By never directly giving a moral, the work is able to evoke open-minded thoughts from the reader. If it had done so, it would have lost much of its effect. However, in doing this Blake hopes to cause his readers to see the faults in holding in emotions, as the effects can literally be fatal. His work is applicable to persons of every time period, which also adds to its popularity and influence.

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230

An Overview of the English Romanticism Era and the Poem A Poison Tree by William Blake

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Anger,” “wrath,” and “fear” are very prominent in the short sixteen-line piece and engulf you from the start. In this paper, there will be an argument that “A Poison Tree” is a symbol for the lack of restraint and self-control in man. An argument that Blake, if referring to himself in the poem, uses himself as the serpent from the Garden of Eden, except as a serpent with a conscious.

The first stanza shows In choosing a poem from the English Romanticism era, I found one that particularly stands among others. A poem that had some depth, in that I couldn t understand and feel what the poem was expressing at first glance. It is a poem that had a sense of mystery around it. These characteristics are exceptionally evident in William Blake s poem “A Poison tree.” William Blake was a British poet and painter born in 1757 to a father who was hosier. “Anger,” “wrath,” and “fear” are very prominent in the short sixteen-line piece and engulf you from the start. In this paper, there will be an argument that “A Poison Tree” is a symbol for the lack of restraint and self-control in man. An argument that Blake, if referring to himself in the poem, uses himself as the serpent from the Garden of Eden, except as a serpent with a conscious. The first stanza juxtaposes the idea of friend and foe in a rather elegant way. The stanza reads, “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” (Songs of Experience Pg.38). The contrast in actions relating to a “friend” in distinction to a “foe,” is the relevant theme in this stanza. The different ways in which Blake, if he indeed is referring to himself in this poem, deals with anger towards a “friend” and conversely towards an adversary is striking. When angry with a friend, Blake is able to control his anger and enclose it in a finite sense. On the other hand, Blake shows little forgiveness for an enemy. Blake s harshness and lack of repentance toward the man in this poem cannot be fully realized until looking at the final two stanzas as well as the illustration. The second stanza reads, “And I waterd it in fears,/ Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). This stanza is completely centered on the tree that the “foe” would later steal an apple from. Blake s is obviously making a symbol and allegory in reference to the Bible and the Garden of Eden. Now the question is whether the Blake s tree symbolizes, from the Bible, the tree of good and evil or the tree of life. Does it even matter which tree was being symbolized here? These are questions that should be answered to fully understand the poem. Some knowledge of the Bible is in order to accomplish this. One tree from the Garden of Eden is the tree of good and evil; this is the tree from which Eve took the fruit (however not an apple) and shared it with Adam. Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve by telling her that she would be wise and know the difference between good and evil if she ate the fruit off the tree. The second tree is the tree of life which also contains fruit, that if eaten will bring the eater eternal life. Because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, they were not allowed to eat from the tree of life and therefore banished from Eden. From the second stanza alone, it is impossible to make a reference towards what tree is being referred to. Interesting is that Blake states, “And I waterd it in fears” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Blake s “wrath” was accompanied with “fear.” Fear from what? Could it be the fear from Blake s foe? Or could it be fear that fruit from the tree could be stolen? One can assume that Blake s fear stems for his actions in lines 6-9; “Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Blake was fearful of his actions that would ultimately produce a “poison tree” that could entice and inflict pain on his enemy. Blake is showing some signs of a conscious such as creating something that was tempting and yet also deadly. However, the one instrumental difference from the Bible is that the serpent never had a conscious. Blake mentions that he, referring to the tree, “sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). It is Blake s “deceitful wiles” that allow him to nurture this poison tree and return the deceit that Blake has received to his “foe.” It is important to note that Blake s enemy didn t become so by stealing an apple from his tree. Blake was already angry with this man. Evidence of this can be seen in third stanza. The third stanza reads, “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” (Songs of Experience Pg. 39). Blake s foe “beheld it shine.” If his enemy saw the apple then one must conclude that this man was Blake s adversary before he watered and nurtured the tree. Knowing that is crucial because it helps to understand the first stanza fully. For example, if Blake were mad at his enemy only because he stole from his tree, then the first stanza would serve as summary to the upcoming three stanzas. The first stanza is not a summary but an introduction to the rest of the story in the poem. With the third stanza understood, one can now go back to my original question of the tree. Is the tree a representation of the tree of good and evil, the tree of life, or neither? Since both trees in the Garden of Eden contained fruit as Blake s does, that only adds to the remarkable similarity in imagery that Blake is using in reference to the Garden of Eden. There is still not enough evidence to make a convincing case either way. An instrumental line in the third stanza is in line thirteen, which states, “And my foe beheld it shine” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Evidence is given to the fact that the apple is tempting. By the apply shining, imagery of a very alluring and breathtaking fruit is constructed. Blake does this to create even more reinforcement to the fact that he is playing the part of the serpent. Blake was the one who created this captivating apple and his purpose was to entice his rival to his downfall. The climax of the poem comes in the fourth and last stanza. It reads, “And into my garden stole./ When the night had veild the pole./ In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretched beneath the tree” (Songs of Experience Pg. 39). The night covered or veiled Blake s garden and allowed the enemy to steal the tree. One might even conclude, although complete evidence of this is not present, that the night directly refers to Blake s role as the serpent or Satan. In the literary world, such as Dante s Inferno, and more conventional means such as the Bible, it is understood that God is everything. This includes light and abandons everything else. Since evil things are what God is not, the darkness of the night would be a logical companion for the serpent to possess as a tool for tempting the foe toward the tree. The last two lines of the poem capture the entire mood of the poem as a whole. Blake affirms, “In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretchd beneath the tree” (Damrosch 125) Blake s adversary ate the apple and is now lying “beneath the tree.” Knowing that the man whom ate the apple is dead, resolves the dispute of the tree that he ate from. As mentioned earlier, the tree of life, if eaten from, will beget eternal life. It is secure to say that Blake s tree was not an allegory for the tree of life. The tree of good and evil permits the knowledge of differentiating good from evil. Evidence for Blake s reference to this tree is not indisputable, however Blake was ultimately referring to the tree of good and evil because, as in the first stanza, the poem revolves around good and evil, “friend” and “foe.” The problem is that death does not directly come from eating off the tree of good and evil. However, Blake deliberately left room for speculation on how the man ultimately ended up “outstrecthd beneath the tree.” Adam and Eve were eventually banished from the Garden of Eden for eating from the tree of good and evil and ultimately denied eternal life. In a sense, the tree was responsible for their downfall just as Blake s tree could be seen as the reason for his foe s demise. Not only did the apple lead to the man s downfall, but also the lack of restraint that is a symbol of the desertion of self-control in all man. The illustration that guides the poem is such a way that one can consider it one of Blake s greatest works. The artwork centers around a man, on his back, lying lifeless under the barren branches of a leafless tree. The sky is blue but one can make out that with such nice environment, it gives evidence to the fact that conditions are such that a tree should flourish; however the tree that the man lies under is dead. Blake represents his own poison tree and contrasting that to the real world. Another striking aspect of the illustration is the way the man is position beneath the tree. His arms outstretched. What is odd is, in reference to the poem, the man being the one who lacked restraint and ate the apple is actually a symbol for the man who died for sin s such as the one he just committed Christ. Blake may have been making a point on the ability to take for granted the sacrifice Christ made in dying for our sins. Blake was an avid reader of the Bible, and references like that were very characteristic of the time. A Poison Tree” is the ideal poem for Blake s Songs of Experience. Blake realizes that innocence is not just purely good or experience purely evil. Although Blake uses “A Poison Tree” to point out the lack of self-control and restraint in man, he also shows the tempter, the serpent, with a conscious, which differs from the Bible greatly. Overall, I believe that the poem is one of Blake s best works from Songs of Experience. I feel that Blake s use of imagery, allegory, symbolism and illustration really set this poem apart from others.

In choosing a poem from the English Romanticism era, I found one that particularly stands among others. A poem that had some depth, in that I couldn t understand and feel what the poem was expressing at first glance. It is a poem that had a sense of mystery around it. These characteristics are exceptionally evident in William Blake s poem “A Poison tree.” William Blake was a British poet and painter born in 1757 to a father who was hosier. “Anger,” “wrath,” and “fear” are very prominent in the short sixteen-line piece and engulf you from the start. In this paper, there will be an argument that “A Poison Tree” is a symbol for the lack of restraint and self-control in man. An argument that Blake, if referring to himself in the poem, uses himself as the serpent from the Garden of Eden, except as a serpent with a conscious. The first stanza juxtaposes the idea of friend and foe in a rather elegant way. The stanza reads, “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” (Songs of Experience Pg.38). The contrast in actions relating to a “friend” in distinction to a “foe,” is the relevant theme in this stanza. The different ways in which Blake, if he indeed is referring to himself in this poem, deals with anger towards a “friend” and conversely towards an adversary is striking. When angry with a friend, Blake is able to control his anger and enclose it in a finite sense. On the other hand, Blake shows little forgiveness for an enemy. Blake s harshness and lack of repentance toward the man in this poem cannot be fully realized until looking at the final two stanzas as well as the illustration. The second stanza reads, “And I waterd it in fears,/ Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). This stanza is completely centered on the tree that the “foe” would later steal an apple from. Blake s is obviously making a symbol and allegory in reference to the Bible and the Garden of Eden. Now the question is whether the Blake s tree symbolizes, from the Bible, the tree of good and evil or the tree of life. Does it even matter which tree was being symbolized here? These are questions that should be answered to fully understand the poem. Some knowledge of the Bible is in order to accomplish this. One tree from the Garden of Eden is the tree of good and evil; this is the tree from which Eve took the fruit (however not an apple) and shared it with Adam. Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve by telling her that she would be wise and know the difference between good and evil if she ate the fruit off the tree. The second tree is the tree of life which also contains fruit, that if eaten will bring the eater eternal life. Because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, they were not allowed to eat from the tree of life and therefore banished from Eden. From the second stanza alone, it is impossible to make a reference towards what tree is being referred to. Interesting is that Blake states, “And I waterd it in fears” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Blake s “wrath” was accompanied with “fear.” Fear from what? Could it be the fear from Blake s foe? Or could it be fear that fruit from the tree could be stolen? One can assume that Blake s fear stems for his actions in lines 6-9; “Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Blake was fearful of his actions that would ultimately produce a “poison tree” that could entice and inflict pain on his enemy. Blake is showing some signs of a conscious such as creating something that was tempting and yet also deadly. However, the one instrumental difference from the Bible is that the serpent never had a conscious. Blake mentions that he, referring to the tree, “sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). It is Blake s “deceitful wiles” that allow him to nurture this poison tree and return the deceit that Blake has received to his “foe.” It is important to note that Blake s enemy didn t become so by stealing an apple from his tree. Blake was already angry with this man. Evidence of this can be seen in third stanza. The third stanza reads, “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” (Songs of Experience Pg. 39). Blake s foe “beheld it shine.” If his enemy saw the apple then one must conclude that this man was Blake s adversary before he watered and nurtured the tree. Knowing that is crucial because it helps to understand the first stanza fully. For example, if Blake were mad at his enemy only because he stole from his tree, then the first stanza would serve as summary to the upcoming three stanzas. The first stanza is not a summary but an introduction to the rest of the story in the poem. With the third stanza understood, one can now go back to my original question of the tree. Is the tree a representation of the tree of good and evil, the tree of life, or neither? Since both trees in the Garden of Eden contained fruit as Blake s does, that only adds to the remarkable similarity in imagery that Blake is using in reference to the Garden of Eden. There is still not enough evidence to make a convincing case either way. An instrumental line in the third stanza is in line thirteen, which states, “And my foe beheld it shine” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Evidence is given to the fact that the apple is tempting. By the apply shining, imagery of a very alluring and breathtaking fruit is constructed. Blake does this to create even more reinforcement to the fact that he is playing the part of the serpent. Blake was the one who created this captivating apple and his purpose was to entice his rival to his downfall. The climax of the poem comes in the fourth and last stanza. It reads, “And into my garden stole./ When the night had veild the pole./ In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretched beneath the tree” (Songs of Experience Pg. 39). The night covered or veiled Blake s garden and allowed the enemy to steal the tree. One might even conclude, although complete evidence of this is not present, that the night directly refers to Blake s role as the serpent or Satan. In the literary world, such as Dante s Inferno, and more conventional means such as the Bible, it is understood that God is everything. This includes light and abandons everything else. Since evil things are what God is not, the darkness of the night would be a logical companion for the serpent to possess as a tool for tempting the foe toward the tree. The last two lines of the poem capture the entire mood of the poem as a whole. Blake affirms, “In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretchd beneath the tree” (Damrosch 125) Blake s adversary ate the apple and is now lying “beneath the tree.” Knowing that the man whom ate the apple is dead, resolves the dispute of the tree that he ate from. As mentioned earlier, the tree of life, if eaten from, will beget eternal life. It is secure to say that Blake s tree was not an allegory for the tree of life. The tree of good and evil permits the knowledge of differentiating good from evil. Evidence for Blake s reference to this tree is not indisputable, however Blake was ultimately referring to the tree of good and evil because, as in the first stanza, the poem revolves around good and evil, “friend” and “foe.” The problem is that death does not directly come from eating off the tree of good and evil. However, Blake deliberately left room for speculation on how the man ultimately ended up “outstrecthd beneath the tree.” Adam and Eve were eventually banished from the Garden of Eden for eating from the tree of good and evil and ultimately denied eternal life. In a sense, the tree was responsible for their downfall just as Blake s tree could be seen as the reason for his foe s demise. Not only did the apple lead to the man s downfall, but also the lack of restraint that is a symbol of the desertion of self-control in all man. The illustration that guides the poem is such a way that one can consider it one of Blake s greatest works. The artwork centers around a man, on his back, lying lifeless under the barren branches of a leafless tree. The sky is blue but one can make out that with such nice environment, it gives evidence to the fact that conditions are such that a tree should flourish; however the tree that the man lies under is dead. Blake represents his own poison tree and contrasting that to the real world. Another striking aspect of the illustration is the way the man is position beneath the tree. His arms outstretched. What is odd is, in reference to the poem, the man being the one who lacked restraint and ate the apple is actually a symbol for the man who died for sin s such as the one he just committed Christ. Blake may have been making a point on the ability to take for granted the sacrifice Christ made in dying for our sins. Blake was an avid reader of the Bible, and references like that were very characteristic of the time. A Poison Tree” is the ideal poem for Blake s Songs of Experience. Blake realizes that innocence is not just purely good or experience purely evil. Although Blake uses “A Poison Tree” to point out the lack of self-control and restraint in man, he also shows the tempter, the serpent, with a conscious, which differs from the Bible greatly. Overall, I believe that the poem is one of Blake s best works from Songs of Experience. I feel that Blake s use of imagery, allegory, symbolism and illustration really set this poem apart from others.

the idea of friend and foe in a rather elegant way. The stanza reads, “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”. The contrast in actions relating to a “friend” in distinction to a “foe,” is the relevant theme in this stanza. The different ways in which Blake, if he indeed is referring to himself in this poem, deals with anger towards a “friend” and conversely towards an adversary is striking. When angry with a friend, Blake is able to control his anger and enclose it in a finite sense. On the other hand, Blake shows little forgiveness for an enemy. Blake s harshness and lack of repentance toward the man in this poem cannot be fully realized until looking at the final two stanzas as well as the illustration.

The second stanza reads, “And I waterd it in fears,/ Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles”. This stanza is completely centered on the tree that the “foe” would later steal an apple from. Blake s is obviously making a symbol and allegory in reference to the Bible and the Garden of Eden. Now the question is whether the Blake s tree symbolizes, from the Bible, the tree of good and evil or the tree of life. Does it even matter which tree was being symbolized here? These are questions that should be answered to fully understand the poem. Some knowledge of the Bible is in order to accomplish this. One tree from the Garden of Eden is the tree of good and evil; this is the tree from which Eve took the fruit (however not an apple) and shared it with Adam. Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve by telling her that she would be wise and know the difference between good and evil if she ate the fruit off the tree. The second tree is the tree of life which also contains fruit, that if eaten will bring the eater eternal life. Because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, they were not allowed to eat from the tree of life and therefore banished from Eden. From the second stanza alone, it is impossible to make a reference towards what tree is being referred to. Interesting is that Blake states, “And I waterd it in fears”. Blake s “wrath” was accompanied with “fear.” Fear from what? Could it be the fear from Blake s foe? Or could it be fear that fruit from the tree could be stolen? One can assume that Blake s fear stems for his actions in lines 6-9; “Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” Blake was fearful of his actions that would ultimately produce a “poison tree” that could entice and inflict pain on his enemy. Blake is showing some signs of a conscious such as creating something that was tempting and yet also deadly. However, the one instrumental difference from the Bible is that the serpent never had a conscious. Blake mentions that he, referring to the tree, “sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” . It is Blake s “deceitful wiles” that allow him to nurture this poison tree and return the deceit that Blake has received to his “foe.” It is important to note that Blake s enemy didn t become so by stealing an apple from his tree. Blake was already angry with this man. Evidence of this can be seen in third stanza.

The third stanza reads, “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”.Blake s foe “beheld it shine.” If his enemy saw the apple then one must conclude that this man was Blake s adversary before he watered and nurtured the tree. Knowing that is crucial because it helps to understand the first stanza fully. For example, if Blake were mad at his enemy only because he stole from his tree, then the first stanza would serve as summary to the upcoming three stanzas. The first stanza is not a summary but an introduction to the rest of the story in the poem. With the third stanza understood, one can now go back to my original question of the tree. Is the tree a representation of the tree of good and evil, the tree of life, or neither? Since both trees in the Garden of Eden contained fruit as Blake s does, that only adds to the remarkable similarity in imagery that Blake is using in reference to the Garden of Eden. There is still not enough evidence to make a convincing case either way. An instrumental line in the third stanza is in line thirteen, which states, “And my foe beheld it shine” . Evidence is given to the fact that the apple is tempting. By the apply shining, imagery of a very alluring and breathtaking fruit is constructed. Blake does this to create even more reinforcement to the fact that he is playing the part of the serpent. Blake was the one who created this captivating apple and his purpose was to entice his rival to his downfall.

The climax of the poem comes in the fourth and last stanza. It reads, “And into my garden stole./ When the night had veild the pole./ In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretched beneath the tree” . The night covered or veiled Blake s garden and allowed the enemy to steal the tree. One might even conclude, although complete evidence of this is not present, that the night directly refers to Blake s role as the serpent or Satan. In the literary world, such as Dante s Inferno, and more conventional means such as the Bible, it is understood that God is everything. This includes light and abandons everything else. Since evil things are what God is not, the darkness of the night would be a logical companion for the serpent to possess as a tool for tempting the foe toward the tree. The last two lines of the poem capture the entire mood of the poem as a whole. Blake affirms, “In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretchd beneath the tree” (Damrosch 125) Blake s adversary ate the apple and is now lying “beneath the tree.” Knowing that the man whom ate the apple is dead, resolves the dispute of the tree that he ate from. As mentioned earlier, the tree of life, if eaten from, will beget eternal life. It is secure to say that Blake s tree was not an allegory for the tree of life. The tree of good and evil permits the knowledge of differentiating good from evil. Evidence for Blake s reference to this tree is not indisputable, however Blake was ultimately referring to the tree of good and evil because, as in the first stanza, the poem revolves around good and evil, “friend” and “foe.” The problem is that death does not directly come from eating off the tree of good and evil. However, Blake deliberately left room for speculation on how the man ultimately ended up “outstrecthd beneath the tree.” Adam and Eve were eventually banished from the Garden of Eden for eating from the tree of good and evil and ultimately denied eternal life. In a sense, the tree was responsible for their downfall just as Blake s tree could be seen as the reason for his foe s demise. Not only did the apple lead to the man s downfall, but also the lack of restraint that is a symbol of the desertion of self-control in all man. The illustration that guides the poem is such a way that one can consider it one of Blake s greatest works. The artwork centers around a man, on his back, lying lifeless under the barren branches of a leafless tree. The sky is blue but one can make out that with such nice environment, it gives evidence to the fact that conditions are such that a tree should flourish; however the tree that the man lies under is dead. Blake represents his own poison tree and contrasting that to the real world. Another striking aspect of the illustration is the way the man is position beneath the tree. His arms outstretched. What is odd is, in reference to the poem, the man being the one who lacked restraint and ate the apple is actually a symbol for the man who died for sin s such as the one he just committed Christ. Blake may have been making a point on the ability to take for granted the sacrifice Christ made in dying for our sins. Blake was an avid reader of the Bible, and references like that were very characteristic of the time. Although Blake uses “A Poison Tree” to point out the lack of self-control and restraint in man, he also shows the tempter, the serpent, with a conscious, which differs from the Bible greatly.

Overall, I believe that the poem is one of Blake s best works from Songs of Experience. I feel that Blake s use of imagery, allegory, symbolism and illustration really set this poem apart from others.

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192

Similar Ideas in Poems Written by Blake, Slessor, Eliot and Tennyson

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the poems ‘London’, ‘Beach Burial’, ‘A poison Tree’,’ The Garden of Love’,’ Journey of the Magi’ and ‘Ulysses’ by Blake, Slessor, Eliot and Tennyson, simple images of objects, actions and ideas are used to develop universal themes of life, death, social decay, religion and human alienation. ‘London’ and ‘Beach Burial’ both use simple images to express the speaker’s human journey to despair. ‘Journey of the Magi’ and ‘Ulysses’ both explore a reflection of a journey and it’s impacts on life through images. ‘A Poison Tree’ and ‘The Garden of Love’ are little tales describing the suppressions and confessions of anger and the destruction that the corrupted church provokes.

‘London’, by William Blake and ‘Beach Burial’ by Slessor both heavily rely on simple images of death and pain to explore and develop the themes of life and its miseries.

In ‘London’, Blake is highly critical of London and wretched lives that Londoners lead, but he is also critical of institutions such as the church, the monarchy and especially marriage, which takes away people’s freedom. London uses simple of images of colour, such as ‘black’ning church’ and ‘midnight streets’ to evoke a sense of darkness which can be further interpreted as a notion to death. As the hapless soldier’s ‘sigh runs in blood down Palace walls’, a vivid criticism of the monarchy who wage wars without a thought for those who do the fighting is asserted. The simple image of the chimney sweeper, “How the chimney sweeper’s cry” contributes to the depiction of London’s period of industrialisation. This simple yet effective imagery demonstrates the rigidity of London’s society at that particular time. Like London, Beach Burial uses images of suffering and desolation to reveal the speakers recognition of the great democracy of death. “Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,/Whether as enemies they fought,/ Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together.” Slessor illustrates a stark description of death and how it inevitably forces men together, despite their differences.

**Similarly to London, Beach Burial use simple images of colour to assist in revealing a suitably serious and sombre tone. ” Unknown seaman- the ghostly pencil/ Wavers and fades, the purple drips”, the indelible pencil used to write unknown seaman turns purple in the wet, wavering and fading like a ghostly pencil.

Both poems successfully use simple images of suffering and misery to develop the underlying theme of death.

Simple images of nature are evident in ‘Journey of the Magi’, by T S Eliot, and ‘Ulysses’, by Tennyson, as they strengthen and develop the complicated theme of how life and religion can be influenced and changed. ‘Journey of the Magi’ is a narrative reflection of the speaker’s conversion to Christianity as he expresses his feelings towards his religion and thoroughly describes his religious rebirth. A great sense of human alienation is evoked as the speaker presents himself being both physically and psychologically uncomfortable, “And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly/And the villages dirty and charging high prices.” The antagonism between the people and the harshness of the journey are conveyed through images of the physical aspects of the journey. Eliot effectively uses simple images to deliver the audience with implications of complexity, “And an old white horse galloped away in a meadow.” This alludes to the death of Christ as the speaker’s religion is running or ‘galloping’ away from him. Like ‘Journey of the Magi’, simple images are apparent in Ulysses as they intensify the theme of the consequences of life and existence. ‘Ulysses’ similarly retells a journey, but a very different one, it is a recount of the war in Troy as the speaker’s experiences and adventures are exhibited from a reflective point of view.

The speaker represents the idea of how life rusts, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end/ To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!” The speaker’s life wilts and crumbles when he returns home, as he feels empty looking out at “that untravelled world.” ‘Ulysses’ is similar to London in the way that it effectively uses images associated with colour to accentuate the tone of the poem, “And when thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades/Vext the dim sea”, the speaker evokes a sense of gloom and misery.

‘Ulysses’ and ‘Journey of the Magi’ both express how a certain journey changed a person’s outlook on life. The images are used in combination with emotive language to establish the tone while maintaining to accentuate the underlying themes of life, death and religion.

‘The Garden of Love’ and ‘A Poison Tree’ by William Blake both use simple images of nature to explore and develop complex themes of anger and the corruption of the Church. ‘A Poison Tree’ uses extended metaphor, hinted at the title of the poem, which already conceives a strong sense of anger. The speaker’s anger is like a seed, which is hidden under the ground and is nurtured, as a plant is nurtured by sun and rain, by the poet’s hypocritical smiles and constant tears. ” And I watered it in fears/ Night and morning with my tears;/And I sunned it with smiles/And with soft deceitful wiles.” The images of the fruit allude to the speaker’s anger as the fruit of anger may look attractive and desirable to the speaker (thus the theft), but in reality, it is completely poisonous. The image of the tree has something in common with the Eden myth, “And it grew both day and night/Till it bore an apple bright” and it may even remind the reader of the poisoned apple in Snow White. Imagery is relatively responsible in presenting the audience with this horrid little tale of people and their complex relationships. ‘The Garden of Love’ describes Blake’s attitude towards the church. The speaker’s sense of the church is that of something that is dark and bleak, as implied through the use of vivid images of nature and colour; “And I saw it was filled with graves/And tomb-stones where flowers should be/And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds.” Sweet images of ‘flowers’, the ‘green’ and essentially the entire garden are compared to what it has become; a grave and deathly place. The Church has corruptly acquired the green, which was once used as a public place.

In the poems studied, simple images of objects, actions and ideas are used in combination with a variety of poetic techniques to allow the complex universal themes of life, death, human alienation and religion to be explored thoroughly. Imagery is obviously a very important element of poetry.

Every picture the poet paints with figurative language has a vivid association with the meaning being generated.

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A Poison Tree: the Best Work from Songs of Experience

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

In choosing a poem from the English Romanticism era, I found one that particularly stands among others. A poem that had some depth, in that I couldnt understand and feel what the poem was expressing at first glance. It is a poem that had a sense of mystery around it. These characteristics are exceptionally evident in William Blakes poem “A Poison tree.” William Blake was a British poet and painter born in 1757 to a father who was hosier. “Anger,” “wrath,” and “fear” are very prominent in the short sixteen-line piece and engulf you from the start. In this paper, there will be an argument that “A Poison Tree” is a symbol for the lack of restraint and self-control in man. An argument that Blake, if referring to himself in the poem, uses himself as the serpent from the Garden of Eden, except as a serpent with a conscious.

The first stanza juxtaposes the idea of friend and foe in a rather elegant way. The stanza reads, “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” (Songs of Experience Pg.38). The contrast in actions relating to a “friend” in distinction to a “foe,” is the relevant theme in this stanza. The different ways in which Blake, if he indeed is referring to himself in this poem, deals with anger towards a “friend” and conversely towards an adversary is striking. When angry with a friend, Blake is able to control his anger and enclose it in a finite sense. On the other hand, Blake shows little forgiveness for an enemy. Blakes harshness and lack of repentance toward the man in this poem cannot be fully realized until looking at the final two stanzas as well as the illustration.

The second stanza reads, “And I waterd it in fears,/ Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). This stanza is completely centered on the tree that the “foe” would later steal an apple from. Blakes is obviously making a symbol and allegory in reference to the Bible and the Garden of Eden. Now the question is whether the Blakes tree symbolizes, from the Bible, the tree of good and evil or the tree of life. Does it even matter which tree was being symbolized here? These are questions that should be answered to fully understand the poem. Some knowledge of the Bible is in order to accomplish this.

One tree from the Garden of Eden is the tree of good and evil; this is the tree from which Eve took the fruit (however not an apple) and shared it with Adam. Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve by telling her that she would be wise and know the difference between good and evil if she ate the fruit off the tree. The second tree is the tree of life which also contains fruit, that if eaten will bring the eater eternal life. Because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, they were not allowed to eat from the tree of life and therefore banished from Eden.

From the second stanza alone, it is impossible to make a reference towards what tree is being referred to. Interesting is that Blake states, “And I waterd it in fears” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Blakes “wrath” was accompanied with “fear.” Fear from what? Could it be the fear from Blakes foe? Or could it be fear that fruit from the tree could be stolen? One can assume that Blakes fear stems for his actions in lines 6-9; “Night & morning with my tears:/ And I sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Blake was fearful of his actions that would ultimately produce a “poison tree” that could entice and inflict pain on his enemy. Blake is showing some signs of a conscious such as creating something that was tempting and yet also deadly. However, the one instrumental difference from the Bible is that the serpent never had a conscious.

Blake mentions that he, referring to the tree, “sunned it with smiles./ And with soft deceitful wiles” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). It is Blakes “deceitful wiles” that allow him to nurture this poison tree and return the deceit that Blake has received to his “foe.” It is important to note that Blakes enemy didnt become so by stealing an apple from his tree. Blake was already angry with this man. Evidence of this can be seen in third stanza.

The third stanza reads, “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” (Songs of Experience Pg. 39). Blakes foe “beheld it shine.” If his enemy saw the apple then one must conclude that this man was Blakes adversary before he watered and nurtured the tree. Knowing that is crucial because it helps to understand the first stanza fully. For example, if Blake were mad at his enemy only because he stole from his tree, then the first stanza would serve as summary to the upcoming three stanzas. The first stanza is not a summary but an introduction to the rest of the story in the poem.

With the third stanza understood, one can now go back to my original question of the tree. Is the tree a representation of the tree of good and evil, the tree of life, or neither? Since both trees in the Garden of Eden contained fruit as Blakes does, that only adds to the remarkable similarity in imagery that Blake is using in reference to the Garden of Eden. There is still not enough evidence to make a convincing case either way.

An instrumental line in the third stanza is in line thirteen, which states, “And my foe beheld it shine” (Songs of Experience Pg.39). Evidence is given to the fact that the apple is tempting. By the apply shining, imagery of a very alluring and breathtaking fruit is constructed. Blake does this to create even more reinforcement to the fact that he is playing the part of the serpent. Blake was the one who created this captivating apple and his purpose was to entice his rival to his downfall.

The climax of the poem comes in the fourth and last stanza. It reads, “And into my garden stole./ When the night had veild the pole./ In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretched beneath the tree” (Songs of Experience Pg. 39). The night covered or veiled Blakes garden and allowed the enemy to steal the tree. One might even conclude, although complete evidence of this is not present, that the night directly refers to Blakes role as the serpent or Satan. In the literary world, such as Dantes Inferno, and more conventional means such as the Bible, it is understood that God is everything. This includes light and abandons everything else. Since evil things are what God is not, the darkness of the night would be a logical companion for the serpent to possess as a tool for tempting the foe toward the tree.

The last two lines of the poem capture the entire mood of the poem as a whole. Blake affirms, “In the morning glad I see./ My foe outstretchd beneath the tree” (Damrosch 125) Blakes adversary ate the apple and is now lying “beneath the tree.”

Knowing that the man whom ate the apple is dead, resolves the dispute of the tree that he ate from. As mentioned earlier, the tree of life, if eaten from, will beget eternal life. It is secure to say that Blakes tree was not an allegory for the tree of life. The tree of good and evil permits the knowledge of differentiating good from evil. Evidence for Blakes reference to this tree is not indisputable, however Blake was ultimately referring to the tree of good and evil because, as in the first stanza, the poem revolves around good and evil, “friend” and “foe.”

The problem is that death does not directly come from eating off the tree of good and evil. However, Blake deliberately left room for speculation on how the man ultimately ended up “outstrecthd beneath the tree.” Adam and Eve were eventually banished from the Garden of Eden for eating from the tree of good and evil and ultimately denied eternal life. In a sense, the tree was responsible for their downfall just as Blakes tree could be seen as the reason for his foes demise. Not only did the apple lead to the mans downfall, but also the lack of restraint that is a symbol of the desertion of self-control in all man.

The illustration that guides the poem is such a way that one can consider it one of Blakes greatest works. The artwork centers around a man, on his back, lying lifeless under the barren branches of a leafless tree. The sky is blue but one can make out that with such nice environment, it gives evidence to the fact that conditions are such that a tree should flourish; however the tree that the man lies under is dead. Blake represents his own poison tree and contrasting that to the real world.

Another striking aspect of the illustration is the way the man is position beneath the tree. His arms outstretched. What is odd is, in reference to the poem, the man being the one who lacked restraint and ate the apple is actually a symbol for the man who died for sins such as the one he just committed Christ. Blake may have been making a point on the ability to take for granted the sacrifice Christ made in dying for our sins. Blake was an avid reader of the Bible, and references like that were very characteristic of the time.

A Poison Tree” is the ideal poem for Blakes Songs of Experience. Blake realizes that innocence is not just purely good or experience purely evil. Although Blake uses “A Poison Tree” to point out the lack of self-control and restraint in man, he also shows the tempter, the serpent, with a conscious, which differs from the Bible greatly. Overall, I believe that the poem is one of Blakes best works from Songs of Experience. I feel that Blakes use of imagery, allegory, symbolism and illustration really set this poem apart from others.

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Analysis of the Peculiarities and Use of Symbolism in William Blake’s Poetry

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

In all five of William Blake s poems there is a clear connection between the outward subjects and the deeper truths they express. The Tiger and The Lamb are actually about a wild and a tame animal, but are really about God’s power in creation or the power of the natural world and the nature of God as shown in Jesus. A Poison Tree and The Human Abstract seem to be about mysterious trees with dangerous fruit, but really tell of the “opposing states of the human soul”. In the Infant Sorrow the experience is about the birth of a child. In The Tiger and The Lamb the dispute takes the style of a conversation with the animal, to which many questions are asked, while A Poison Tree and The Human Abstract tell short stories.

The main symbol in The Lamb, is the lamb, it symbolizes suffering innocence and Jesus Christ. In The Tiger, the Tiger symbolizes God’s power in creation. The Human Abstract is about a tree, which symbolizes the good and evil of the world. In the Infant Sorrow the evil symbol is the world and the good symbol is the mother s breast. In The Poison Tree the main symbol is the apple, which show the dark side of human nature.

In The Lamb and the Tiger, Blake uses symbolism to show the differences between the two, the tiger is fierce, active, predatory, while The Lamb is meek, vulnerable and harmless. The Tiger and The Lamb go well together, because in them, Blake examines different, almost opposite or contradictory, ideas about the natural world, its creatures and their Creator. Blake reminds The Lamb, and us, that the God, who made The Lamb, also is like The Lamb. As well as becoming a child Jesus became known as The Lamb of God: Jesus was crucified during the Feast of the Passover when lambs were slaughtered in the temple at Jerusalem. Blake sees the tiger as an evil creature and he questions himself about how somebody, God, can create a peaceful animal like the lamb but also create such a horrible creature like a tiger.

In Human Abstract and Poison Tree, Blake shows us how a tree can symbolize good and evil. A Poison Tree tells how anger can be dispelled by goodwill or nurtured to become a deadly poison. This is a terrible poem because it depicts with appalling honesty the hatred of which man is capable and the cunning with which we can conceal our anger. But with the Human Abstract the Blake is aware of the “Two Contrary States of the Human Soul” and the “Mystery” of the tree which “bears the fruit of deceit”, and in which the Raven, the omen of death, “his nest has made”. Blake’s argument becomes less clear, but a number of things are worthy of note: that “peace”, usually a good thing, may be the result of “mutual fear” and how in “The Human Abstract”, good things like “holy fears”, “tears” and “Humility”, are mixed up with wickedness – “mutual fear”, “the selfish loves” and “cruelty”. As in A Poison Tree there is attractive fruit, though we do not know who is to eat it. The “thickest shade”, where the “Raven” nests, suggests the secrecy and obscurity of the “Human Abstract” here described. The final stanza gives us the key to the poem: the “Gods” sought “in vain” in the natural world for such a tree, but the poet knows it is found “in the Human Brain” – that its existence is real, but metaphorical, rather than literal. The tree and its fruit suggest particularly the tree, in Genesis, of the knowledge of good and evil: as man has eaten the fruit of this tree, so he has gained this forbidden knowledge, which is particularly the subject of the poem’s first two stanzas.

The Infant Sorrow offers readers the chance to see the change that takes place, according to Blake, when a baby enters this world. The final decision: it is not a pleasant and peaceful entrance, rather, it is a cruel and corrupt world that an innocent youth is forced to enter. Stanza one begins with the quote, “My mother groaned!” This intense opening to the poem suggests that the mother may not have wanted the child or perhaps she is groaning for she knows the horrible evils of this world that the child will have to suffer. With the mother groaning and the father weeping, Blake paints a picture that includes a strong and dominant mother, perhaps because she is carrying the child. The father in this picture is the weaker of the two sexes who is quite unaware of what is to come. The second stanza switches scenes to “after the birth.” This stanza shows the first struggles that the baby has with life. Blake uses words such as, “striving,” “bound and weary” to create a struggle between innocence and experience. The stanza closes with the way in which the baby finds refuge amidst the chaos, “to sulk upon my mother’s breast.” Because the baby will soon get older, he will not have the breast to turn to. He will soon learn, just as his mother did, the way to survive in a cruel, cruel, world.

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