Treasure Island

William Blake

(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 / London)

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A Poison Tree


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Submitted: Wednesday, May 09, 2001

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  • Jacob Muthoka (8/29/2014 4:50:00 AM)

    I thought I understood this poem at first, but it reads multi-barreled. That he was angry with a friend made it easy to control and instruct his wrath. When a foe did the same, he held on to his wrath; morning after morning waiting for a day to revenge. He watered the asking for revenge over time until at last he was willing to see his foe die. The foe kept on their living. When Blake woke up to learn of the death of a foe, he must have been a happy man. Imagine, the only one smiling in the funeral. It's metaphoric as someone said. (Report) Reply

  • Jacob Muthoka (8/29/2014 4:50:00 AM)

    I thought I understood this poem at first, but it reads multi-barreled. That he was angry with a friend made it easy to control and instruct his wrath. When a foe did the same, he held on to his wrath; morning after morning waiting for a day to revenge. He watered the asking for revenge over time until at last he was willing to see his foe die. The foe kept on their living. When Blake woke up to learn of the death of a foe, he must have been a happy man. Imagine, the only one smiling in the funeral. It's metaphoric as someone said. (Report) Reply

  • Deniz Atay (8/21/2014 4:40:00 PM)

    a great, poetic example of how anger and hate kill both the receiver and the owner.. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Warner (8/4/2014 8:43:00 AM)

    To have a foe means he needs revenge and the revenge grew in his head but he never took revenge justed waited until fis enemy was defeated by his own bad Khamma (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (6/17/2014 8:27:00 AM)

    I read this poem in this 2nd time and understands that anger always makes so much trouble to the mind and it grows and grows until something different happens and here the poet describes beautifully the plight of his foe and the poison tree becomes fatal to him. A beautiful poem from the great poet. (Report) Reply

  • Eric Sawyer (5/21/2014 9:12:00 AM)

    So does anyone else here think he poisoned that apple that he knew his foe would steal... (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (4/27/2014 9:12:00 PM)

    ........chemistry plays an important role, when you do not have chemistry with someone then this person is a foe....and animosity creates a poison tree.....whereas the chemistry with a friend creates a beautiful garden....one everyone can admire... (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/25/2014 4:42:00 AM)

    one of the very good poems of the great poet as well as it is very meanings. Angry, enemity, and its containment all are beautiful and highly informative. (Report) Reply

  • Vizard Dhawan (4/24/2014 10:15:00 AM)

    A Poison Tree' is a symbolic title as it
    explains the truth of human nature. It
    is a metaphoric(metaphor) poem as
    the poet creates a picture in our minds
    of how anger hidden in our minds can
    grow to become a poison tree. The poet
    describes that a feeling of anger can
    disappear if there is goodwill and
    friendship but if there is distrust n
    enmity, it grows and causes great
    destruction. When one is angry with a
    friend, and we communicate that
    anger, it automatically disappears
    because of love and friendship. But
    when one is angry with an enemy, it
    continues to grow because it is not
    expressed (Report) Reply

  • Michelle Freeman (11/22/2013 8:02:00 PM)

    In response to Stephen W, I saw the same thing because that IS what I do, mostly because forgiving a friend is easier than forgiving someone you hate/despise/can't-stand-the-sight-of. However, what I can say is, that by reading the poem I realised that taking revenge on the enemy might end badly for me so I try to forgive but I just don't forget what they did. To me the poem talks about revenge mostly, but that's just my weird interpretation. (Report) Reply

  • Lily Mccambridge (10/14/2013 1:10:00 PM)

    William Blake is my favorite poet. I love how his poems flow, they are so smooth. And his ideas are brilliant. (Report) Reply

  • Shahzia Batool (10/14/2013 8:59:00 AM)

    @Anthony Di'anno:

    the interpretation is good enough for me to see his friend and foe in this light, as i teach his volume,10 poems in our M.A course, i was only looking at the narrow side, as a romantic, as a visionary, and as a social poet who wanted to reform the ills of the contemporary society which pained him...one of all this is the suppression of feelings and the communication gap that help nourish the grudge and the sign is the poison tree in the inner landscape...
    thank you Anthony for the comment! (Report) Reply

  • Macanthony Chijioke Nwatu (10/14/2013 7:15:00 AM)

    Hello guys, pls vote for me in the on going poemhunter's poem competition. Follow this link: http: //www.poemhunter.com/contest-vote/readers-are-leaders/
    thanks (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (10/14/2013 7:09:00 AM)

    The poet contemplates between friend and foe.For a friend he could bare his heart out; but for the foe, he has other method to confront him.He tactfully handled his foe by inviting him to eat a posinous apple prodcued in his garden. As it turned out, his foe lay dead in that poisnous tree. Very metamorphically written!
    Manohar Bhatia. (Report) Reply

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