A Poison Tree by William Blake - Analysis
Over the course of the poem, anger is developed as a poisoned tree. In the first three stanzas, the metaphor of anger as a tree is developed using imagery that is suggestive of trees. In these stanzas, the development of anger from a seed to a tree is shown as it grows, it is watered and sunned, or nurtured and allowed to thrive, and eventually bears fruit, “an apple bright.” Consonance is used in one instance to control the tone and mood of the events in the poem. In lines seven and eight, the soft “s” sound is repeated, giving the lines a softer and more deceitful and cunning tone. Allusions are also apparent in the third and fourth stanza when the tree bears an apple which the foe beholds, and when the enemy steals into the garden. This allusion to the Garden of Eden is used to bring the poem into a more biblical realm, which is typical of Blake’s work. 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 self destruction. The speaker’s 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 Blake’s 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...
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