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 looks sick; but what kind of sickness is this? Some words deliver Blake’s idea of this sickness, such as, “night,” “bed,” and “secret love.” By those words we van guess that the disease is the result of the illegal relationships between the man and woman. The “rose” got the sickness from the “invisible worm.” My thought about such words is that “invisible” points to the man who will not be blamed for such a doing. So, he is invisible no matter what he does; and he can “fly” that gives an idea that he can reach any woman he wants and then escape easily. And all the blame will go to the woman who becomes sick, that means she will become either pregnant or got a sexual disease. And in this context, “joy” points to the temporary enjoyment they have at that moment. While “crimson” points to the consequences the woman will face after such an enjoyment. Also “crimson” can represent the dark red color that is the color of the ill blood.
The third and the last interpretation to be discussed here is the religious one. To go back to the very beginning of the creation, we know that humans disobeyed God in the pre-earthy life so that they were descended to earth. And this fact gives the following interpretation; the “worm” stands for the satanic thinking that inspired the “rose” who is the human being. And “crimson” points to the suffering humans in the earthy life after they have the “joy” without thinking in the results of such doing. In the other hand, the “rose” may represent Christianity and the “worm” is the hypocrite clergymen who enjoy their lives while people have the “crimson” life after depending on such men. Thus, this interpretation is all about the religious corruption that began from eternity and it now back with the new life style.
In the end, what create our own special interpretation for such a symbolic poem is the experience we go through in our daily lives and how we see the world. Thus, hundreds of different interpretation will occur and sure we can’t say they are wrong. Each one is unique in its own way; and each one may mirrors the inner side of who put it this way. Blake releases our imagination to no limits and waits to listen to our thoughts. However, he won’t discover his secret for us to be creative each in his peerless style.