A Poison Tree, by William Blake - Audio

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William Blake (1757-1827) was a young man, in his late teens, when he witnessed the "Gordon Riots" in London.  It was June, of 1780, and an angry mob burned buildings and engaged in massive disorderly conduct. 

According to a Proclamation by King George III - issued on the 7th of June, 1780 (when he had been on the throne twenty years) - the "disorderly persons" did much more than engage in civil unrest.  They were, he declared, guilty of treason: 

...[they] have been guilty of many Acts of Treason and Rebellion, having made an assault on the Gaol [jail] of Newgate, set loose the prisoners confined therein, and set fire to and destroyed the said prison ...

After the riots, William Blake continued to work at various jobs. 

Very intelligent, he earned an income mostly from his engravings and illustrations - such as drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy and his still-famous work, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun - although he was also a prolific writer. 

Many of his poems reflect his view that life can be chaotic and contradictory.   

When Blake married his wife, Catherine Boucher (1762-1831), she could neither read nor write - a situation not at all unusual for the time.  He taught her, how to read and write, then she became very helpful in his business. 

The couple had no children. 

"A Poison Tree" remains one of William Blake's most-popular poems.  In this audio clip, it is read by Carole Bos (creator of AwesomeStories).  Think about these topics as you listen to Blake's words.


ISSUES AND QUESTIONS TO PONDER:   What is Blake saying about pent-up anger?  When he doesn't let his anger out, what happens when it festers and grows? 

Is the apple a metaphor for something?  If so, what?  

When the author's "foe" sneaks in to steal the apple, he doesn't know that it has been poisoned.  Do you think the apple was deliberately poisoned?  Why, or why not?  

If not, why didn't the poet's enemy realize that the tree, itself, was poisoned?

What happens after "the foe" steals the apple?  

Is the poet justified in being happy when he discovers that his enemy is dead?  Why, or why not?   


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 water'd 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 veil'd the pole.
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.


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Media Credits

"A Poison Tree," by William Blake.  Read by Carole Bos, creator of Awesome Stories.



To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"A Poison Tree, by William Blake - Audio" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 17, 2020.
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