Critical Analysis of A Poison Tree by William Blake.
The poem ‘A Poison Tree’ happens to be one of a kind in the sense that it is it seems idealistic in a vengeful sense. It was written in an era known to have spawned great romanticists. The poem depicts the emotional ideas of the author and the consequences that may arise from the same. He also makes use of extensive imagery to express his innermost emotions associated to his fellow man. The poem also forces oneself to look within in introspection, bringing out questions of whether an individual who always forgives their friends would also be able to forgive their enemies. The name ‘A Poison Tree’ brings out the idea and a clear picture of what is to expected in the poem. The poem consists of four stanzas which rhyme (Blake & Ralph 12). Each stanza has been structured in a way that it flows into the next almost without pause, giving it a hurried but more direct tone, matching the deeds within the poem.
The poem has four stanzas that are different in many ways. It starts off with first person narration as the poet expresses anger and hatred towards his enemy. He then makes a turn with ‘It’ being used instead of ‘I’, a pronoun which depicts feelings the enemy has. Blake uses a metaphoric technique of style to enunciate emotions. For example, he uses apple to depict the vengeance he has devised; the tree is used to depict that he has lost patience. Besides, he also employs stanza end-rhymes to drive the message home. Looking at the first, second, third and the fourth lines in first Stanza, we have ‘friend’, ‘end’, appearing to end the respective lines, in a rhyming manner, and likewise there is ‘foe’ together with ‘grow’ which still rhymes (12). The intended nuances of these words and its rhythmic pattern has an effect on the reader in that it gives these specific words some import in their mind, while perfectly describing the feelings of the author and helping them act upon it. These words are crucial in aiding the understanding of the poem.
The Poetic Form of A Poison Tree
In the poem, the author clearly expresses the anger he holds toward the friend in the text. In the same stanza, he does try to express the anger he has towards the enemy. He doesn’t leave it there but goes ahead to define how the two types differ from one another. In this stanza, the author elaborates that one does try to convince their heart to forgive their friends, even if they hurt you, by trying to put the past behind them. However, when an enemy provokes one’s anger it might take ages to calm it. This anger feeds into a vengeance that will never diminish, even as time passes.(Gwynn 9).
The author also portrays this slow increment in the hatred he has towards his enemy by using sarcastic similes, going on to imagine his predicament while cursing his enemy to be able to go through a similar or even worse suffering. Blake states that his vengeance has continually grown with each passing day of his existence because of the nature of his hatred and the nature of his habits. This hatred eventually gives rise to the apple of his revenge. The apple fruit is used to signify the evil deed that the enemy brought to him, and the evil has been born in their heart, a technique of personification or imagery, since it represents the anger inside him. Here, the apple also represents the fruit of temptation, the fountain of sin. He goes ahead to confess that he will not turn back or even forget about his enemy, until such a time that he is able to enact his vengeance (Kennedy 19). The apple fruit is now a weapon. The author make use of this weapon as he proclaims that the next morning, the purpose of the fruit was indeed served. Glancing to the garden, he is able to sees something which relaxes his mind, calming the fires of his vengeance forever, making it a beautiful morning indeed. The enemy died from biting the poisoned apple of temptation, the creation of his vengeance (Napierkowski & Mary 51). The poem shows us how to react towards a feeling, before it gets larger.
In conclusion, it is plain that anger is an aggressive emotion found in all humans. In the poem, Blake clearly states his anger together with the idea of vengeance inside the heart. In this text, he forgives his friend easily, but not his enemy. He employs symbolism and metaphors together with dictation. Blake’s poem is a lesson to all those who read it. It portrays a distinct shifting of emotion within Blake, the notion of letting a feeling dwell inside him and reacting to his inner vengeance. Overall, the poem educates us on the need to quench any personal anger unless it is used to ignite passion, or forever risk blinding oneself from the truth of this knowledge.
Blake, William, and Ralph Richardson. The Poetry of Blake. Caedmon, 1958.
Gwynn, R. S. Poetry: A Pocket Anthology. Pearson/Longman, 2005.
Kennedy, Caroline. Poems to Learn by Heart. Disney/Hyperion Books, 2003.
Napierkowski, Marie R, and Mary K. Ruby. Poetry for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context,
and Criticism on Poems. Setha, 2004.