The Sick Rose Interpretation

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‘The Sick Rose’ * William Blake

The Sick Rose short is a poem by William Blake from Songs of Experience; it was published in 1794. The poem from the very beginning with its title starts with symbols. The whole poem with every word holds many different meanings. The “rose” is a symbol for some sort of like that got attacked by the “worm” and becomes “sick.” Blake didn’t limit the meaning into just one, but he left the door opened to let any thought come in and interact with the words he put. Some possible interpretations are about the traditional thinking, moral corruption and religious corruption.

The first and the most common interpretation that may come to one’s mind is the traditional idea that “rose” stands for nature and the “worm” stands for the industrial revolution. Nature without any interference from the humans is pure, innocent and beautiful; it is a spiritual place where our souls transcendence to the angels’ world. But after the corruption of the industrial revolution and the different dangerous kinds of pollution it brought, nature is no more a beautiful place. It has become a ghostly place where creatures are against each other, each one fights for its own survival. Many plants and animals has died out. In this context, the interpretation of “joy” stands for the development in the humans’ lives. While “crimson” points to the negative effects on the nature they brought. Humans now just care for how they would be more and more rich and don’t care for any life that doesn’t help them in that. Thus, the rose symbolizes earthly, as opposed to spiritual, love, which becomes ill when infected with the materialism of the world.

The second interpretation relates to the moral side and the corruption in the ethics of the new world. Here, the “rose” stands for women and the “worm” stands for men. This idea may be more possible than the previous one after looking to Blake’s illustration of the poem. In the illustration we see a feminine figure that...
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