William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” Short Summary

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The theme in William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” is exceedingly interesting. From the very beginning the voice of the poem is under question. Whether it is from the Masculine or feminine point of view, even though he uses “he”, it could still be interpreted either way.

Since Blake did use “he” it should be taken for face value and thus implies that Blake purposely did so to help clarify the poem’s voice as being feminine and referring to the “he” in the poem as her partner In “A Poison Tree”, William Blake uses symbols effectively and powerfully. From the beginning he uses them ambiguously to imply what he means without directly telling us.You see how relationship could work through solving discrepancies or problems, simply by talking about it; such state the lines: “I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end”. You can see an obvious change when the communication stops.

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“I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow”. Not only has the friend now become a foe, the anger she’s keeping inside continues to fester. This implies that a deeper caring then simple friendship is transpiring between the voice and her “he”. The relation ship has moved up a level.

She is no longer mad at a friend she is angry with a lover, which multiplies in magnitude any action or circumstance between them. As fears begin to overwhelm the relationship, “And I watered it in fears”, the reader is given the distinct feeling that she is suppressing her feelings toward something in the relationship. The next few lines, “And I sunned it with smiles, And with soft deceitful wiles”, confirm that feeling. She is taking a distinctive feminine approach by hiding her feelings and acting very passive.

There is a great deal of mystery via the use of symbolism in the poem, take the tree for example.The tree or “pole” is her eternal soul, but the apple is a growth, something cancerous, on the tree. Hence, the problem (the apple) symbolizes what she is fearing “And it grew both day and night. Till it bore an apple bright”.

He sees this apple “And my foe beheld it shine, and knew that it was mine,”and realizes what he sees but it is to late to unravel this fruit that is the soul reason of their estrangement. The “garden” is the most symbolic part in the poem. The garden symbolizes everything feminine and is often referred to when talking about the inner-self and deals closely with virginity.Here you can tell that it is referring to her virginity or innocence when Blake sites the place “he” is treading upon, “and into my garden stole,”.

These lines reveal that he has taken her virginity away from her, for whatever reason is a gray, objective area open for debate. Sounds in poems are very important when you consider the fact that before written language became widespread, poems and stories were passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. So having a rhyme scheme was a useful verbal tool along with the smooth flow of the poem.In this poem it is the final word in each line that rhymes, ex: friend and end, shine and mine.

“A Poison Tree” poem, a sad love story of the loss of innocence and death of a relationship, William Blake, requiring you to think if you wish to understand the poem. Looking at the symbols used was a key to understanding the poem. After understanding how everything fit together you realize that Blake put to together something that so many people can relate to in there own way shape for form. Which is key for a poem when crossing the line between good and greatness, a narrow line, that sets every thing apart.

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William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” Short Summary. (2017, Dec 22). Retrieved from


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