A Poison Tree Poem by William Blake

A Poison Tree Poem by William Blake
William Blake

A Poison Tree poem by William Blake was 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.

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.

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 veil’d the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch’d beneath the tree.

A Poison Tree poem by William Blake
A Poison Tree poem by William Blake

13 Comments


  1. I enjoyed this Blake poem, which I had not seen before…I’m still intrigued by the lack of meter in “And I sunned it with smiles,” and wonder if the original might have been “And I sunned it with my smiles,” – or perhaps the early version of English pronounces the word sun-ned as two syllables (such as I discovered was a difference in the British pronunciation of squir-rels.) It seems strange that such a master of words would neglect the meter… (Just a thought!)

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  2. A good poem for this particular day, Alchemist. Now if we can all learn how not to give our wrath sustenance….

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  3. I love this poem! I wrote a paper detailing the darkly ironic fate of the speaker and actually saw some of Blake’s work when I visited the Tate in England. Nice writing!

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  4. I love this poem, haven’t read it in forever. It really does beautifully describe how anger festers, yet dissipates when told. I’ll need to read more of Blake’s Songs of Experience.

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  5. Thanks for sharing!!! This is always a valuable lesson to remember.
    Sargent Photography

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  6. Thank you for sharing this! This poem is dark but absolutely moving because it speaks to the darkness present in each person.

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