A Poison Tree
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
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 waterd it in fears,
Night & 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 veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
“A Poison Tree” is a poem written by William Blake, published in 1794 as part of his Songs of Experience collection. It describes the narrator’s repressed feelings of anger towards an individual, emotions which eventually lead to murder. The poem explores themes of indignation, revenge, and more generally the fallen state of mankind.
The poem relies on a trochaic beat. It consists of four stanzas and begins with an emphasis on the first person. The first person perspective changes with the use of the word “And” after the first stanza, while the emphasis on “I” is replaced
The original draft has a line drawn beneath the first stanza, which could denote that Blake originally intended the poem as concluding at the 4th line. There are also many differences between the manuscript and published versions of the poem, with the original line 3 and 4 reading “At a Friends Errors Anger Shew / Mirth at the Errors of a Foe.”