A Poison Tree

January 13, 2017 General Studies

???A Poison Tree,??? represents a central metaphor explaining the truth of human nature. This poem displays how anger dispelled by goodwill becomes a deadly poison. The opening stanza creates the plot for the entire poem, from the ending of anger with the ???friend,??? to the continuing anger with the ???foe.??? Blake employs an immense sense of clarity, and literary devices such as metaphors, allusions and personification all applying to instances of life.

The personification in ???A Poison Tree??? exists both as a means by which the poems metaphors become revealed, and supported, and as a way for Blake to forecast the greater illustration of the wrath. The wrath the speaker feels is not directly personified as a tree, but as something that grows slowly and bears fruit. In the opening stanza the speaker states, ???My wrath did grow.??? The speaker later describes the living nature of the wrath as one which, ???grew both day and night,??? and, ???bore an apple bright.??? This comparison by personification of wrath to a tree illustrates the speakers idea that, like the slow and steady growth of a tree, anger and wrath gradually accumulate and form just as mighty and deadly as a poisoned tree.

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To understand the metaphorical sense of the poem, one must first examine the title, ???A Poison Tree,??? which alerts the reader that some type of metaphor will stand to dominate the poem. In the second stanza, Blake employs several metaphors that reflect the growing and nurturing of a tree which compare to the feeding of hate and vanity explored by the speaker. The verses, ???And I watered it ??¦with my tears??? show how the tears life lead an object of destruction. The speaker goes further to say, ???And I sunned it with smiles??? describing not only false intentions, but the processing of ???sunning???, giving nutrients to a plant so that it may not only grow and live, but flourish. In both of these metaphors, the basic elements for a tree to survive, water and sunlight are shown in human despair and sadness.

The religious context of the poem is also evident in two metaphorical allusions made by the speaker towards the end of the poem. The deadly fruit borne of the tree is an apple, while the scene of death and treachery occurs in the speakers garden. The apple is a product of hate, the ironic ???fruits of ones labor,??? and a biblical allusion for sin. This co notates that destruction will occur if the tree becomes showered with sour emotions. The garden, viewed as a place of life and prosperity, serves simply as the stage for the sinful act, as in the Bible. Similar to the events of the biblical story of Adam and Eve, man gives in to the weakness of sin and falls.

Blakes poetry, while easy to understand and simplistic, usually implies a moral motif on an almost basic level. The powerful figurative language in ???A Poison Tree??? becomes so evident that it brings forth an apparent message as well. The poem does not celebrate wrath; rather it demonstrates Blakes cry against it. Through this, Blake warns of the dangers of repression and of rejoicing in the sorrow of our foes. Through figurative language, anything beautiful in life can become contorted to something disgusting if shown ugly emotions.


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