Explication of William Blake's A Poison Tree Essay

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Explication of William Blake's A Poison Tree William Blake's "A Poison Tree" (1794) stands as one of his most intriguing poems, memorable for its vengeful feel and sinister act of deceit. This poem appears in his famous work Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul (1794), placed significantly in the "Songs of Experience" section. As with many of his poems, Blake wants to impart a moral lesson here, pointing of course to the experience we gain in our human existence at the cost of our innocence. With this poem, he suggests that holding a grudge (suppressed anger left unchecked) can be fatal to the self as well as the object of wrath. Through images, punctuation, and word choice,…show more content…
His anger becomes a living entity that he "waters" and "suns" with "tears" and "wiles," and making it to grow "both night and day" (9), hinting at his unfolding scheme against his foe. In describing his attentive care towards this wrath/plant, the speaker unintentionally reveals his unnatural obsession with getting revenge, while pointing to the slowly emerging anger as a force of its own that slowly consumes the speaker. The speaker's vigilance results in "an apple bright" (10) in the third stanza - similar to the apple from the Tree of Forbidden Knowledge, this fruit stands at once as a harbinger of danger and a tantalizing temptation for the speaker's unsuspecting foe. The speaker becomes the Serpent that tempted Eve, capitalizing on and exploiting the Deadly Sin of Envy by allowing his foe to "behold its shine" (11). The crafty speaker brags about reading his foe's mind: "And my foe beheld it shine, / and he knew that it was mine" (11-12), implying the ease with which he could fool his enemy by taking advantage of his foe's natural curiosity and covetousness. Blake ends this stanza with a comma instead of a period, accelerating the fatal line of action into the fourth and final stanza, filling the reader with dread and anticipation. The foe falls for the ruse, deceptive in his own right as he stealthily slips into the speaker's garden to steal the shiny object (and proving

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