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A Poison Tree - William Blake

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.
And I watered it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
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.
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.



Wrath - strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.
Deceit distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; duplicity; fraud; cheating
Wiles Trick, trap
Veiled conceal, lacking clarity or distinctness

1. Personification
- Waters the wrath with fear
I told my wrath, my wrath did end
2. Metaphor
-The tree is considered as a wrath/anger
-"Till it bore an apple bright", the apple is a metaphor for the "fruit" of his grudge.
3. Alliteration
-sunned and smiles
-friend and foe
-bore and bright
4. Imagery
- Throughout the poem
5. Irony
-the foe beneath the tree of hatred
6. Repitition
-I was angry with my friend I was angry with my foe
7. Allusion
-"Garden.. apple...tree" alludes to Adam & Eve, the Garden of Eden.
Stanza 1: William Blake speaks of someone, his friend and his foe, whom has he is angry with.
When he says I told my wrath, my wrath did end after he said he was angry with his friend, he
is saying he was able to get over being angry with his friend and forgot about it. Although, it is
quite the opposite when he mentions I told it not, and my wrath did grow. Blake is saying that
with his enemy, he allowed himself to get angry, and therefore, his wrath did grow.
Stanza 2: In this stanza, Blake begins to make his anger grow and he takes pleasure in it,
comparing his anger with something, in this case, a tree or plant. The speaker says he sunned it
with smiles and and with soft, deceitful wiles. This means he is creating an illusion with his
enemy saying he is pretending to be friendly to seduce and bring him closer.
Stanza 3: And it grew both day and night and til it bore an apple bright are meaning that his
illusion with his enemy is growing and growing until it became a strong and tempting thing. His
illusion has a metaphor and it is an apple. After, his foe believes it shines, which means he thinks
its true and means something, and takes Blake illusion seriously. And he knew it was mine
suggests that he really thinks Blake is his friend.

Stanza 4: Being the last stanza, Blake needed to come up with a conclusion. He has used the two
lines in the morning glad I see and my foe outstretched beneath the tree to say that his foe
finally fell to his tempting illusion and metaphorically, consumed his poison apple and died. So,
obviously, his malicious intentions were hidden behind illusion and he prevailed over his enemy.
In the first stanza, the consequence of allowing anger to continue instead of stopping it as it
begins is shown. This consequence is simply that it will continue to grow. However, as the poem
progresses, it is seen that this continued growth of anger can yield harmful results as the enemy,
or foe, is lured toward the tree and eats of its fruit, the poison apple. This kills his foe, as he is
seen outstretched beneath the tree, a sight the speaker is glad to see the next morning. These final
two lines explain one of the main themes of the poem, which is that anger leads to selfdestruction. The speakers anger grows and eventually becomes so powerful that it has changes
from simple anger with another person, to desire to see them dead. One of the subjects of Blakes
work was the underworld, or Hell, and knowing this, it can be seen that the destruction which
results from anger is not physical, but spiritual. In addition, the death of the foe, which the
speaker is glad to see, does not spiritually affect the foe as the speaker is affected, but only
physically harms the foe.

Interpretation and Symbolism
After reading such an amoral poem, the search for hope or alternate meaning begins. A metaphor
lives inside the poem, but instead of making the poem less wicked, the analogy confuses and
questions faith.
Symbolically, the speaker represents God, the foe and garden represent Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden, and the tree represents the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis. If
this analogy is true, it shows God rejoicing in killing his enemies, which most people think the
God they know would never do.
Blakes poem is peculiar even for todays standards, and his analogy may be ruthless and
insensitive, but he does get the reader thinking. By looking further into the poem, we find that
the speaker nourishes and feeds his wrath, which symbolically is the tree from the Garden of
Eden. Is Blake suggesting that God fed his wrath and anger into the tree and intended for man to
eat from it? If so, He is creating a world doomed to His wrath and anger, an idea just about
anybody would shutter at.
William Blake was an English Dissenter and Dissenter members broke away from the Anglican
Church. Dissenters believed that the policies of the Anglican Church were wrong and so opposed
it. Blake began writing a collection of poems called Songs of Experience to protest the Anglican
Church's policy of stifling "sinful" emotions in people, such as anger. A Poison Tree is a good
example of this because it shows how Blake believed that stifling anger would only cause the
anger to grow. In fact, Blake even decided to call the original draft of a Poison Tree, "Christian
Forebearance." However, the English government did not tolerate the radical actions of
the English Dissenters and they persecuted them.


The Poison Tree by William Blake provides a clear lesson on how to handle anger both with a
friend and enemy. The narration is first person point of view with a nameless speaker.
The poetic form has four quatrains with a set rhyme scheme: AABB. This means that each
quatrain has two couplets. This rhyme scheme creates a simple and easy way to follow the flow
of the poem. It makes a powerful statement about how conflict should be handled. In his poem,
Blake warns about the ill effects of holding malice inside oneself. The poem is a metaphor for
what happens when one allows anger to grow within.

The first quatrain describes a friend getting angry at his friend. Because the speaker knew and
liked this person, he explained his feelings and the conflict was resolved. The anger ended. On
the other hand, the speaker clashed with a person that he did not like. He held that irritation
inside and did not express or tell the other person what was wrong. That resentment began to
grow inside the speaker.
The second quatrain begins the extended metaphor with the comparison of the anger and the
poison tree. Initiating the idea of the narrator cultivating his rage, he waters the budding tree
with fear and tears every day and even the night. Still, the enemy does not know of this growing
fury. Fear can make a person act out of character and lose his emotional balance. Deceptively,
the speaker employs his smiles as though it was the application of the sun to this toxic tree. With
charm, he allows no interjection or awareness of his wrath.
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
The third quatrain nurtures the tree/ire metaphor. Anger poisons the human spirit;
furthermore, it endangers the ability to use logical reasoning. Finally, this tree bears the fruit of
the narrators fury in the form of a beautiful, appealing apple as in the Biblical forbidden fruit.
The enemy desires the apple and realizes that it belongs to the speaker.

The final quatrain brings the anger to an end; however, the narrator has lost his humanity. He
now is glad that the enemy is dead. The fruit of his antagonism [the poison apple] lured the
enemy into the garden; he ate the apple; and now the foe has been eradicated. The last couplet
indicates that the narrator finds comfort in the death of the other man.
Blake uses the poem as a warning to those who harbor grudges and allow the feelings of
resentment to stay inside without dealing with them. Communication becomes the only way to
avoid the fruit of the poison tree.