“A Poison Tree” Poetry Analysis
“A Poison Tree”, by William Blake is a poem of four stanzas, with a rhyme scheme of aa-bb-cc-dd-ee-ff-gg-hh, and in which the poet examines the negative effects of unresolved anger. Blake cleverly presents this idea by way of an extended metaphor in order to make the point that if you let anger fester and build up, deplorable actions may occur. Blake also employs allusions and tone to help convey this theme.
An extended metaphor is a literary device that compares two unlike things at length. In “A Poison Tree”, the poet compares a growing apple tree with growing anger. As the speaker’s anger grows it develops into a smoldering force that could set off the speaker. In the second stanza in the poem it says, “ And I water it with my fears, Night and morning with my tear; And I sunned it with my smiles, And with soft deceitful wiles.” (lines 5-8). These actions represent all the factors that contribute to the growing of the figurative tree, which is the speaker’s anger. Like a tree, his wrath is being “watered” with fears and tears and it is being “sunned” by tricks and fake smiles. Furthermore, the speaker’s aggravation becomes an “apple” or almost tangible object that the foe takes from the speaker’s “garden”. In reality, this means that the foe purposefully provokes the speaker. The extended metaphor in “A Poison Tree” successfully links a tree with anger.
Poets use allusions to refer to famous literary works or famous people. In “A Poison Tree”, Blake alludes to the story of Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis. He does this to display the sins of anger and temptation. In stanza four the poem says “And into my garden stole when the night veiled a pole: and in the morning glad I see My foe outstretched beneath the tree.” (lines 13-16) Like in the story when Eve stole into the Garden of Eden and ate the apple that was prohibited by God, the foe stole into the speaker’s emotions provoked him to kill the foe. The sin of...
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