A Poison Tree

The original thinker William Blake in his poem “The Poison Tree” talks about how devastating and ruinous the bottled up anger can be. The speaker’s pent up anger grew and became a fruit-bearing full-fledged tree. This poem follows the structure of a nursery rhyme, though it delivers a message that is true for everyone.

A Poison Tree


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 waterd 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 outstretchd beneath the tree.

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Analysis of Blake’s “A Poison Tree”

William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” was published in 1794 as a part of his poetry collection in “Songs of Experience”. The speaker does not dilly-dally and launches right away to tell us that he once bore a grudge against a friend. But it died once he had shared his feelings with his friend.

However, he also bore grudge against an enemy, but his failure to air his grievance caused that anger to gradually flourish as he “watered it in fears”. Eventually the anger took the form and shape of “an apple bright”. Then one morning, the speaker discovers his enemy underneath the tree – dead, eaten away by the speaker’s abhorrence.

One of the primal themes of this poem is anger. In the first stanza, “anger” and “wrath” are used interchangeably. This metamorphosis of anger into something that is incredibly vengeful and spiteful alludes to the fact that how something that might have been trivial in the beginning grew in vigor and became destructive. The speaker constantly feed and nurtured his hatred and it grew like a tree that bore a grand apple. The “apple” and the “tree” and the ruination that it brought along alludes to the poet’s own depiction of the original sin.

Here the serpent is the speaker who lures the foe into his personal “Garden of Eden” and destroys him with a superior deceit. The speaker employs anaphora as he starts all the lines in the first stanza using “I”, lending emphasis to the fact that nurturing a grudge has made him selfish.

Although it resembles a children’s poem in rhyming and the four-line stanzas, it still carries a message that can be closely connected to today’s world, especially when people in this era are increasingly alienating themselves from others and as a result all their frustrations are never dealt with, only bottled-up.

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