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Short poem

William Blake (1757-1827)

A Poison Tree

              1I was angry with my friend.
              2I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
              3I was angry with my foe.
              4I told it not, my wrath did grow;

              5And I water'd it in fears,
              6Night and morning with my tears;
              7And I sunned it with smiles,
              8And with soft deceitful wiles;

              9And it grew both day and night
            10Till it bore an apple bright,
            11And my foe beheld it shine,
            12And he knew that it was mine,

            13And into my garden stole
            14When the night had veil'd the pole.
            15In the morning glad I see
            16My foe outstretched beneath the tree.


14] the pole: the North Star.

16] Blake's Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (from Genesis), by the eating of apples from which Eve and Adam fell and were cast by God out of Eden and punished with death. Here the speaker would seem to be God, not Satan, who tempted Eve to eat the fruit but did not plant the tree.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Blake, Songs of Experience (W. Blake, 1794). Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton, NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 2. PR 4142 B46 1991 Robarts Library. Text from William Blake's Writings, ed. G. E. Bentley, Jr. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978): I, 194-95. PR 4141 B45 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1794
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/7/22

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: aabb

Other poems by William Blake