Irony and Metaphors: William Blake’s Hidden Talents

Topics: Poetry, Serpent, Anger Pages: 2 (753 words) Published: October 20, 2012
Irony and Metaphors: William Blake’s hidden talents

In William Blake’s “A Poison Tree”, he takes on a simple approach at describing the different aspects and consequences of anger. The poem starts off by saying, “I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath, my wrath did end” (Blake 1,2). Which is a very simple poetic way of saying he was angry, but he felt better after confessing his true feelings. When Blake continues, he explains how he cannot confess his anger to a foe, and goes on by creating images and speaking about the consequences. The obvious moral of this poem is that anger becomes dangerous when hidden from a friend and more importantly, a foe. Interestingly, the metaphorical language of William Blake adds a deeper meaning to the anger within the poem, and takes away the simplicity that the poem has at first glance. E.D. Hirsch points out in his book, the contrast between the simplicity of the language and the complexity of the ideas that it expresses and implies. Such techniques are exactly what makes, “A Poison Tree” a seemingly simple, but very deep poem.

The simplicity of the first stanza can be easily compared to the simplicity of confessing feelings to a friend. It consists of a simple “A-B, A-B” rhyme scheme, with each A containing seven syllables, and each B having eight. Although this sounds simple enough, the following eleven lines surprisingly contain seven syllables each. This is because although the written words are saying danger and madness, “It grew both day and night” (Blake 9), the speaker actually feels sly. The words are organized, much like his plan to put an end to his anger.

The story behind, “A Poison Tree” can be compared to the religious tale of Adam and Eve. When God directed Eve not to the eat fruit from his garden, the serpent lead her into temptation and she ate an apple. Although in that story, God had consequences for Adam and Eve. The speaker in, “A Poison Tree” only has consequences for not confessing his...

Cited: Blake William. “A Poison Tree.” The Wascana Poetry Anthology. Ed. Richard G. Harvey. Regina: U of Regina P, 1996. 81-82. Print.
Hirsch, E.D. Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake. Chicago: UP, 1964. Print.
Lorring, Raina. “Poetry Analysis: A Poison Tree, by William Blake.” Helium. May 24, 2012. October 1 2012. Web.
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