“A Poison Tree” by William Blake: An Analytical Review

408 words | 2 page(s)

Nothing adds juicy meat to a poem like metaphors and personification. Both of which are abundant in William Blake’s poem. After digesting the poem, grab a bite of Blake’s fruity irony which features an apple beneath a poisonous tree. The irony is presented by a tree (which is usually a symbol of life) that hosts Blake’s dead enemy who ate a poisonous apple. The tree gave birth to the apple but it was made poisonous by the mind of the man who planted it. The tree is a metaphor for two things that summarize the theme of this poem. The theme is revenge and it highlights ambiguous features of the human condition. First, humans are quite nice and intelligent. On the other hand, humans can also behave petty and begrudge one another which indicate stupidity. Even worse, humans can be evil.

The tree in Blake’s poem serves as a metaphor fulfilling a dual purpose. For example, festering anger is the primary physiological image created when he Blake stated, “I watered it with fears” (Line 5) and “It bore an apple bright” (Line 10). Though the word tree is only used in the title, it plainly takes on the form of a growing, deeply rooted plant. After all, he provides it with water and light needed for growth. Therein he provides even more metaphors. The water is a metaphor for his tears and fears. The second purpose is fulfilled by the sunlight for his tree. The sunlight is in the form of deceptive smiles and “soft deceitful wiles”. (Line 8) People think that their anger can be managed by pretending to be nice while hiding hateful feelings inside. Blake shows his readers that anger isn’t managed. Instead it grows and even becomes poisonous. In summary, holding onto anger and being deceitful at the same time fueled and multiplied the power of the tree. In the end, he joyfully observes his enemy’s corpse.

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Humans can be super smart by using the healing medicine of communication. When Blake expressed his feelings of anger towards someone who offended him, “his wrath did end” (Line 2) In kindness, Blake referred to the person as a “friend” (Line 1). Yet humans have another face when anger is suppressed. They can smile while plotting to kill an enemy in a silent mission of revenge. Blake’s metaphors suggest that revenge is born from suffering in silence. It is an unhealthy way to handle anger.

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