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A Poison Tree

A Poison Tree

by William Blake

Anger Theme

"A Poison Tree" is a poem about anger, and, more importantly, some of the destructive consequences that can result when we cultivate our anger, rather than try a more productive outlet for this potentially dangerous emotion (like stamp collecting!). The fact that Blake refers to anger as "wrath" suggests that the poem is about a more serious type of anger, a vengeful or spiteful feeling of biblical magnitude ("wrath" is commonly used in the Bible to refer to the anger of Old Testament God). In other words, this is seriously powerful stuff that must be carefully guarded against.

Questions About Anger

  1. We know from the poem that anger is bad (mkay?). But does the poem offer any advice about how to deal with people who make us angry, upset, frustrated, etc.? If so, what? If not, why not?
  2. How does the speaker feel about his anger? Does he regret it in the end? How do you know? 
  3. How does the sing-songy rhyme scheme of this poem impact the way you understand the speaker's anger?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

While Blake's poem illustrates some of the destructive consequences of anger, it also suggests that it is a normal emotion that needs to be dealt with properly. Talk it out, folks.

"A Poison Tree" tells us that anger is never just anger by itself. It needs fear and sorrow to develop. Worst recipe ever.

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