A Poison Tree

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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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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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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William Blake and His Fantastic Poetry

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

William Blake, the son of a London hosier, did not receive any formal education but was self-taught in many respects before he enrolled as an apprentice to James Basire who was the engraver for the Society of Antiquities. Following this he studied at the Royal Academy, and made a living from the age of twenty-two onwards as an engraver for Joseph Johnson, a famously radical bookseller who published Mary Wollstonecraft’s writing among others’. In 1782 he married Catherine Boucher and their marriage was a lasting and happy one although it produced no children. At this time Blake came under the spell of Macpherson’s Ossianic writings and fell into the company of various intellectuals such as Flaxman and the circle of the Reverend A S Mathew. With their aid Blake published his first book of poetry, Poetical Sketches (1783), and set up his own print shop in 1784.

>From this time onwards Blake took the rather unusual step of engraving rather than printing his works, and doing so himself. He made his own ink, hand-printed the pages, illustrated them himself and got his wife to sew the covers on. This cottage industry produced two of the best loved and original books of poetry of the eighteenth century: namely, Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794). Their poems were written in a simple style that made them accessible for children and they show two opposite worlds: one in which God is trusted implicitly and there is no question of moral issues; and one in which the fallen state is examined and religious hypocrisy is examined. They question on a basic level the Enlightenment mode of thinking about Christianity in all its repressive, Puritanical vainglory. These themes continue in Thel which was etched around the time of 1789 and presents them in the words of invented characters who muse upon Blake’s radical interpretation !

of Christianity

Blake’s works became increasingly complex with Tiriel (written in 1789 and published in 1874), where the poet first introduces his blind and fiercely repressive father figure that reappears frequently in his later works. In the early 1790s, Blake produced his single important prose work, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and a number of revolutionary pieces including America: A Prophecy (1793) and Visions of the Daughters of Albion in the same year. A man touched by, if not madness as is frequently assumed, then at least a visionary instinct, Blake wrote with alleged aid of the spirit world and combined this mystical ecstasy with his radical political fervour. He said to a friend, “I write when commanded by the spirits, and the moment I have written I see the words fly about the room in all directions. It is then published and the spirits can read. My manuscripts are of no further use. I have been tempted to burn my manuscripts, but my wife won’t let me”.

Blake continued to write in Lambeth after 1790 without much acclaim, producing after Songs of Experience (with its well-known verse “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright”) various works including The Book of Urizen (1794), The Song of Los (1795) and The Four Zoas (also known as Vala, written and revised 1797-1804). Most important though was his poem in two books called Milton that was written and etched between 1804 and 1808. It is sometimes near impenetrable but contains the extremely famous lines known as ‘Jerusalem’ beginning, “And did those feet in ancient time”. The poem revolves around Blake’s continued obsession and fascination with Milton’s Paradise Lost. One story tells of Blake and his wife reading passages from Milton’s poem naked and aloud in their garden unfazed by the arrival of a friend.

The later years of the great poet and engraver were darkened by his lack of success and by various poor deals such as that for drawings to accompany Robert Blair’s The Grave that Robert Cromek refused to pay him for. He was lost in obscurity, alienating even his circle of friends. Despite his hard work he languished without an appreciative audience, still producing fine poetry such as “The Everlasting Gospel” in 1818. He died in 1827 but interest in his life and works only began after Gilchrist’s biography of 1863 and other poets’ realisation of his uniquely intelligent and complex prophetic vision of existence and religion so misunderstood in his time.

William Blake was born on November 28th, 1757 as the third of five children to a London hosier. Because of the relatively lower middle class status of his father’s profession, Blake was raised in the same state of poverty that he would experience throughout his entire life. As a child, he was already fond of painting and was eventually sent to drawing school as a result. Young William received only enough schooling to learn how to read and write while working in his father’s shop. While Blake received very little of a traditional education, he was well versed in Greek and Latin literature, the Bible, and Milton.

Blake continued to grow intellectually through the influence of his brother Robert who died by consumption when he was twenty. After he saw his brother’s soul “ascend heavenward clapping its hands for joy,” Blake continued to seek inspiration through his favorite brother. Blake continued his strong belief in the spiritual world throughout the rest of his life. When he was ten years old, he tried to convince his father that he had seen angels in a tree and, he asserted throughout the rest of his life, that he spoke with many of the spirits, angels, and devils that he wrote about.

By age fourteen (1771), Blake was apprenticed to an engraver named James Basire where he served for seven years, learning the craft that would later become the focal point around which his other professions would center. Even before his apprenticeship, at the age of twelve, Blake began writing the poetry that would become his first printed work, Poetical Sketches, in 1783. After this time (1779), he enrolled at the Royal Academy but rebelled against the doctrines of its dominating president, Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was at the Royal Academy though, where Blake established relations with John Flaxman and Henry Fuseli whose work served as influences to his own projects.

>From 1779, Blake served as an engraver for a London bookseller while contracting his services to others. It is during this time, at the age of twenty-five (1782), that Blake married his lifelong companion and wife, Catherine Boucher. He taught her to read, write, and help him with his work. They never had any children. It is true that his wife actually helped him produce an edition Blake’s Songs of Innocence. For this edition and various other projects, Blake engraved the plates while Catherine made the impressions, helped hand-colored them, and bound the books together.

John Flaxman helped Blake set up his own print shop at 27 Broad Street in 1784. The business was an eventual failure. Blake continued to contract his skills to others while producing his major works with his wife. During this time, he produced An Island in the Moon (1784-5), All Religions Are One and There is No Natural Religion (1788), The Book of Thel (1789), and Songs of Innocence (1789). The year 1789 marked the beginning of tremendous creativity for Blake as he published his major works in the relatively short period to follow- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93), The French Revolution (1791), America: A Prophecy (1793), Visions of the Daughters of Albion

Blake and his wife left London for the southern coastal town of Felpham between 1800 and 1803. It is in Felpham where Blake evicted a drunken soldier from urinating in his garden who later accused him of making seditious remarks. A jury acquitted him but the event would surface in some of Blake’s later works including one of his masterpieces, Jerusalem (1804-20).

After 1818 and until his death on August 12, 1827, Blake produced no more poetry but continued his engravings including the twenty-one plates of the Book of Job and illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy. Blake continued his creative vision until his death having lived in London, with the exception of his time in Felpham, his entire life. He was buried in common grave in relative obscurity. His wife died four years later. The vast majority of Blake’s original copper engraved plates were destroyed after his death leaving his appreciators few and rare editions of his printed works.

1757

November 28: William Blake is born. Baptized in St. James’ Church.

1760

John Blake is born.

1761

William Blake, at age 4, sees a vision of God’s Head in a window.

1762

Richard Blake is born. Dies in infancy.

1764

Catherine Blake, William’s only sister, is born.

Robert Blake is born.

William, at age 10, begins taking drawing lessons at Henry Par’s Academy in the Strand.

1767

Blake begins writing Poetical Sketches.

1768

Begins work for James Basire, engraver.

1771

Blake’s first engraving: “Joseph of Arimathea amoung the Rocks of Albion”

1774

Blake sketches “The Body of Edward I in his Coffin”.

1779

Leaves Basire.

At the age of 21, Blake enters the Royal Academy.

Engraving: “Edward and Elenor”

Watercolour: “Penance of Jane Shore in St. Paul’s Church”

Watercolour: “Lear and Cordelia in Prison”

1780

Exhibition of the watercolour:”The Death of Earl Godwin” at the Royal Academy.

Draws “Glad Day”.

1782

August: Blake marries Catherine Boucher.

50 copies of Poetical Sketches printed.

1783

July: Death of Blake’s Father.

1786

Drawings: Job, his Wife, and his Friends

Drawings: Job’s Wife and Other Sketches

1787

February: Robert dies at age 19.

In a vision, Robert shows William a new method of engraving.

1788

“There is no Natural Religion”.

“All Religions are One”.

1789

Engraves: Songs of Innocence.

Writes: The Book of Thel in 8 plates.

Engraving: ‘The Beggar’s Opera, Act III’ after William Hogarth

1790

Drawing: The House of Death

Illustrates: Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life.

Begins: America.

1791

September: Death of Blake’s Mother.

Writes: A Song of Liberty.

1793

Writes: America

Visions of the Daughters of Albion

1794

Writes: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Writes: The Songs of Experience

Songs of Innocence and of Experience published

Engraves: Europe.

Engraves: The Book of Urizen.

Writes: The Book of Los.

Writes: Song of Los

Watercolour: Christ Appearing to the Apostles After the Resurrection

Watercolour: Newton

Begins: Vala.

Exhibits “The Last Supper” at the Royal Academy.

Watercolour: The Body of Abel Found By Adam and Eve

1804

Writes: Milton, a Poem.

1807

Illustrations to Paradise Lost

The Temptation of Christ

Exhibition of the Watercolour: Jacob’s Dream and the watercolour: Christ in the Sepulchre, Gaurded by Angels, at the

Royal Academy.

1809

Engraves: Milton.

The Whore of Babylon

Vala renamed The Four Zoas.

Works on the text of Jerusalem.

Begins engraving of Canterbury Pilgrims

1814

Six Illustrations to John Milton’s “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”

1815

L’Allegro.

1816

Designs for Il Penseroso.

1820

First Copy of Jerusalem printed.

On Homer’s Poetry

Old Parr When Young

On Virgil

1821

Watercolors: Job series

Writes: The Ghost of Abel, Blake’s last illuminated book.

Watercolour: Epitome of James Hervey’s ‘Meditations Amoung the Tombs’

1824

Designs: Pilgrim’s Progress.

Death of James Blake.

Watercolour: Moses placed in the Ark of Bulrushes

1825

Finishes: Job.

Begins: Dante drawings.

Virgin & Child

(Black Madonna)

1826

March: publication of Job.

Tempera: The Body of Abel Found By Adam and Eve

Tempera: Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils

Title Page for an Illustrated Manuscript of Genesis

1827

Begins: Dante engravings.

Colours: Ancient of Days.

August 12: 6 PM: Death of William Blake.

1831

October 18: Death of Catherine Blake

Blake produced a multitude of works ranging from the creative to political to social and every combination in between. Blake’s major works serve as an excellent sample of the writing of an accomplished artisan and writer. Many Union College English classes demonstrate a commitment to furthering Blake in the classroom through the close examination of Blake’s work. During the ten-week Blake Seminar, students typically read and discuss all of Blake’s major works and some other “nuggets” related to an understanding of the man and his craft. Below, you will find a complete listing of Blake’s writing along with pertinent dates.

While Blake was the Poetic Genius defined, he was also a philosopher, radical, and great thinker. If we ignore the prophetic and epic qualities of Blake’s own written and engraved works, we discover further intended meanings on a social and political level. Blake’s Jerusalem is an example in which social ideas shine through the epic tale of Albion. In this work, Blake’s love-hate relationship with his native England is expressed through the tensions between characters. As another example, we may look toward Blake’s “London” in his Songs of Experience. Here, once again, Blake comments on the city he both loves and hates.

Some of Blake’s influences and those he influenced are easily traced. If we look toward his own Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake tells us, on plate 3, “And lo! Swedenborg is the Angel sitting at the tomb; his writings are the linen clothes folded up.” We see that Blake identifies the teachings of Emmanuel Swedenborg but, later he replaces those ideas with his own. Swedenborg’s thought appears to serve as a springboard for Blake’s expansive vision.

Swedenborg was a highly respected Swedish scientist and philosopher of the 18th century. Though Swedenborg was so accomplished, nevertheless, he was also incomplete. About the middle of his life, Swedenborg began to document various visions that appeared to him and ultimately, those visions which involved the teachings of the Lord. Supposedly, the Lord chose Swedenborg to be the human connection between heaven and earth. For the rest of his life, Emmanuel Swedenborg served the purposes of his God and developed an ability to predict the future. It is that ability that propelled him to fame for his teachings.

While Blake acknowledges Swedenborg’s thoughts, he later reveals what he perceives as limitations in Swedenborg’s teachings. Blake also thought much about religion and its status withing society. It is within his two works “There is no Natural Religion” and ” All Religions Are One,” that Blake tackles his own views on the role of religion in society and the individual life.

While we can not possibly give justice to all of Blake’s multitudinous ideas here, we may acknowledge that Blake’s ideas range throughout a wide scope of subjects and vary from the radical to the practical. Blake was indeed, no ordinary thinker. We would like to encourage future students to consider Blake in a way that not only challenges their own views and opinions about the world but, their opinions about the man himself.

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A Study of Human Softness as Depicted in a Poison Tree by William Blake

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Human beings, along with the ability to reason and question, possess the capacity to hate, and yet also to forgive. Unfortunately, forgiving someone is not always as easy as holding a grudge against them, and this lack of control over ones actions is inherent to human disposition. In many of his poems, William Blake critically observes human nature and its different aspects, but in A Poison Tree, he specifically discusses human weakness and the effects of humans inherent flaws. Through the use of extended metaphors and vivid imagery, he compares two opposing forces in human beings. In A Poison Tree, William Blake uncovers the inherent weakness in humans by symbolically portraying characteristics of good and evil.

The first stanza introduces a comparison between a friend and a foe through clever parallelism. Blake begins his poem by writing I was angry with my friend: / I told my wrath, my wrath did end (1-2). He continues to say I was angry with my foe: / I told it not, my wrath did grow (3-4). The similarity of lines 1-2 and 3-4 acts as a parallel comparison, with the first part depicting forgiveness, and the second part portraying wrath. The parallelism makes the two opposites stronger, for it emphasizes the differences between them: letting go of his wrath and it ending, as opposed to suppressing his anger and it growing. This is the first point of human weakness that Blake conveys. One side of him is able to forgive, but the other side is not, and this weakness takes over and affects his judgment. The main difference in Blake’s relationship with his friend and his foe is that he can control his anger in his friend’s case, but shows no sign of forgiving his enemy. Therefore, he plants the seed of hatred, which, observing from the title, grows into a poison tree.

In the next stanza, Blake continues the symbolism of the apple tree, which he waterd in fears, / night & morning with my tears (5-6) and sunned with smiles, / and with soft deceitful wiles (7-8). Blake nourishes his anger with fear and dishonesty, for not only does he let it drive him crazy internally (night & morning with my tears [6]), but he covers it up with smiles (7) and deceitful wiles (8) as well. His foe, therefore, is oblivious to the hatred that exists between them. The tree of which Blake speaks of is most likely a reference to the biblical Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, which enabled the person who ate from it to discern good from evil. Blake gives a similar look at good and evil in the first stanza, when he introduces his friend and his foe (Blake’s good and evil sides, respectively). Using evidence from later on in the poem, one notices that Blake acts as the serpent, tempting his foe with an apple. Unlike the serpent, however, Blake shows signs of a good conscience, for although the apple eventually destroys his foe, Blake does not knowingly plan for this. Rather, he lives in fear, specifically fear of his actions, which would produce the poison tree.

Lines 9-12 contain the highpoint of Blake’s hatred, namely an apple bright (10), which is clearly the manifestation of his wrath. All the fear and deceit that Blake was living in helped grow this apple, which is as poisonous as the hatred that he held. His foe beheld it shine (11), so without a doubt the apple is noticeable. Thus it is also tempting to his enemy, and Blake continues by saying he knew that it was mine (12). By this, Blake alludes to his foe’s jealousy (another aspect of human weakness), which will drive him to take the apple. Again, one may observe that Blake is symbolically acting as a serpent, but not consciously, for he does not explicitly tempt his foe with the apple. On the contrary; his enemy steals into his garden to take it.

The poem climaxes in the fourth stanza, in which Blake’s foe into [his] garden stole, / when the night had veild the pole (13-14). Enticed by the beauty of Blake’s apple, and jealous at the same time, the foe waits for complete darkness to break into Blake’s garden and steal it. The darkness of the night is representative of Blake’s role as the serpent, for the black night enables his evil side to emerge and tempt his foe. The last two lines of the poem read in the morning glad I see / my foe outstretchd beneath the tree (15-16). Obviously, Blake’s foe ate the apple from the poison tree, and therefore perished. Again, Blake makes a reference to the Bible, in which Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, leading to their demise. He also brings up another point of human weakness, namely joy of an adversarys downfall. Blake, a victim to human emotions, cannot help but feel happy about his enemy’s destruction.

In A Poison Tree, William Blake exposes the inherent weakness in humans by symbolically revealing characteristics of good and evil. In describing his relationship with a friend and a foe, Blake introduces good and evil. He then continues his poem by showing how his malicious side is symbolical of the Tempter, and eventually responsible for his foe’s death. The serpent in Blake is his weakness, and just like he, all humans have this inherent flaw inside of them. Adam and Eve’s lack of control and self-restraint led them to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, and the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked (Genesis 3:7). This shows human beings imperfection, and how time and time again they are susceptible to the consequences of human weakness.

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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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