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A Poison Tree: Infusion of Themes of Revenge and Honesty

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William Blake infused themes of revenge and honesty into his poem “A Poison Tree” to depict a strong story with powerful messages. The poem begins with the narrator contrasting how he is able to handle issues with his friends and those with his enemies. With his friend, the author is able to explain his anger, and his “wrath did end.” With who the narrator describes as his foe, he instead decides not to tell his enemy what his problems are. Blake transitions from there to the next stanza, in which he describes how holding in these feelings led to them growing. The narrator describes how his own reactions to this wrath allowed it to flourish. Blake uses metaphors within this stanza quite beautifully to explain how the narrator’s tears are watering this wrath, his fake smiles served as a sun, and his “soft deceitful wiles” helped everything seem normal. This one stanza, written with such mastery and passion, helps Blake turn this wrath inside the narrator into a metaphor of a plant of some sort.

It is within the next stanza that we start seeing this wrath flourish into a tree, one that produces a beautiful apple filled with the wrath deep inside the narrator. The line “and he knew that it was mine” shows Blake’s belief that although your anger and its reasoning may reside deep down, those responsible have an understanding of it and can feel it out. In the end, although the foe understood that the apple was of the narrator, he snuck into the garden at night and ate the apple. When the narrator wakes up, he is “glad [to] see” his enemy’s lifeless body under the tree. Although Blake seems to have thought out the use of the word “glad” in this poem, interpretations of this ending can come up with quite the different message. One could see this ending as showing how much easier it will always be to let those that have caused you pain know what they have done. If the narrator didn’t try their best to hold this anger down, and instead had been honest, they wouldn’t have found themselves responsible for the death of such an obliviously disrespectful person. It is seemingly up to all of us to let others know what is appropriate or not in our opinion, and not instead try to get revenge.

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