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The Poem “A Poison Tree” by William Blake Essay


The poem talks about how fatal it is to suppress anger as it eventually leads to grudges in a society. As the poem starts, when the person reveals to his friend that he is angry, the anger goes away, but when the persona fails to speak up when angered by the foe, wrath grows. The poet emphasizes that concealing anger rather than openly coming out to speak out is like planting a seed of the same in one’s mind.

The poet likens effort to suppress anger through exaggerated smiles and deceitful wiles to watering the tree of anger thus developing the grudge (Hagstrom 1964). As time progresses, the cultivated anger becomes a virtue that won’t be shunned. Finally, every individual in the society becomes aware of the much developed anger.

Later the poet talks of “My foe outstretched beneath the tree” to mean the end of the cordial relationship that existed between the persona and other members of society. At the end, the persona in the poem justifies the tittle of the poem that trying to conceal anger is like cultivating a poison tree (Hagstrom 1964).

The poet has employed a number of poetic stylistic features to create rhythm in the poem. For instance, there is terminal rhyme in every of the two consecutive lines in each stanza. This creates a rhythm as well as helps build the poem structure. “Friend and end” and also “fore and grow” are the examples in the second stanza.

The rhyme scheme of the poem would have each rhyme letter repeated twice hence regularly. For instance, the rhyme scheme for this poem is aa, bb, cc, dd, ff, gg. It finally gives musicality to the poem thus making it easy to recite. Meter in the poem has been achieved through the rhyme and diction. The diction is evident where the poet has chosen on rhyming words to deliver the subject matter (Blake 1994).

The poet has successfully managed to employ the use of varied figurative language aspects in the poem. Metaphors have been used to emphasize the subject matter in the poem. For instance, the title of the poem talks of a poison tree to mean anger in real sense. The poet also talks of a fore outstretched beneath the tree to imply broken relations with the friend.

Throughout the poem, the persona talks of a foe to mean the whole society’s perception of anger. However, the anger is not directed to any particular individual, the foe in this case stands for everyone who might interact with the persona.

There are incidences of personification in the poem. In the first stanza, the persona says “I told my wrath”. The wrath is given human attribute of ability to hear as it is spoken to. This is used to emphasize the need for openness and need to confront anger whenever it occurs.

Assonance, the repeat ion of vowel sounds is also evident in every stanza of the poem (Blake 1994). The “o” sounds in told and grow (first stanza), the “I” in “in” and “it” (second stanza) are only but a few of the examples. These further make the poem simpler (Blake 1994).

The overall structure of the poem thus can be deduced from the language and poetic stylistic features employed in the poem. It is quite clear that the overall rhythm of the poem is achieved through alliteration and repetition. The poet then manages to emphasize the subject matter by the use of metaphors and diction. Concealing anger isn’t different from cultivating a poison tree.

Works Cited

Blake, William. A Poison Tree, New York: McGraw Hill, 1994. Print.

Hagstrom, Jean. William Blake: Poet and Painter. An introduction to the illuminated Verse, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 7). The Poem "A Poison Tree" by William Blake. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-poison-tree/

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"The Poem "A Poison Tree" by William Blake." IvyPanda, 7 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/a-poison-tree/.

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IvyPanda. "The Poem "A Poison Tree" by William Blake." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-poison-tree/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Poem "A Poison Tree" by William Blake." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-poison-tree/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Poem "A Poison Tree" by William Blake'. 7 May.

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