The Poems of William Blake

The Outcome of Hatred: Devices and Message in Blake's "The Poison Tree" 12th Grade

“The Poison Tree” from William Blake’s Songs of Experience is a poem that tells the story of one who is engulfed by the hatred felt towards a foe. This individual begins with telling the fury they experienced toward a friend who is told told of the protagonist's anger and in doing so diffused it. On the contrary, the anger towards an enemy remains pent-up and the feeling festers. This resentment grows and grows until it becomes a tree bearing an apple of hatred. The foe steals and eats the apple, is poisoned, and is found lifelessly outstretched beneath the tree of wrath the next morning. The one whose hatred bore the apple is glad to see that his foe has suffered and passed. However, despite the fact that they are content for the moment and that the apple is gone, the tree watered and grown with tears and loathing remains. This hatred is to stay with the character growing and producing more apples for the rest of his life. “The Poison Tree” is suggesting that although hatred is poisonous for the one it is directed at, it causes more suffering for the one who harbors the emotion, an idea that Blake conveys through the use of metaphor, allusion, and language.

First, Blake introduces the metaphor of hatred as a tree in the second...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 972 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7758 literature essays, 2170 sample college application essays, 323 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in