New Criticism on Poison Tree
“A Poison Tree" is rightly an extended metaphor to describe the poet's mental and emotional attitude towards enemy and the conflict between his inner and appearances. We use a metaphor when we use word to mean something different. Thus the poet has use the word "tree" not to describe the common green tree with green leaves and branches, but he means the great hatred that he has for his enemy. So we know that the central conflict in the poem is probably between friendship and enmity. To discover the specific nature of the theme, and to understand how the poem establishes it, we need to closely examine the poem’s linguistic as well as figurative devices. Linguistic devices:
We can see this tension between friendship and enmity structure of the poem as a whole. The title of the poem itself shows the conflict of the poem. Poison means something harm and tree is something beneficial for human beings. This contradiction in “poison tree” resembles the contradictory nature of poet. The title of the poem “A Poison Tree" itself is a paradox because poison means something harmful and destructive which leads into death. Whereas tree is a kind of blessing which provides food and shelter to human beings. We can see various paradoxical elements throughout the poem. The second stanza of the poem is also paradoxical in nature and shows the tension in the poem. And I watered it in fears Night and morning with my tears; And I sunned it with my smiles And with soft deceitful wiles The phrases like “watered it in fears’”, “with my tears” are paradoxical because plants need water, not "fear" and "tears" for their growth. In the same way, the phrases like "sunned it with smiles" and "deceitful wiles" are also contradictory in the sense that sun provides energy to the plants while the poet nourishes his tree of...
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