A Poison Tree
Night and Day
The speaker is adamant about telling us what time of day it is. He waters his anger both at night and in the morning. He gives it sunshine (in the daytime). It grows "both day and night." The "foe" eats the apple at night, and the speaker sees him dead in the morning. The speaker suggests that the growth and development of anger is something that happens all the time, both at night and in the daytime. He implies that it is, in effect, a long-term thing that takes over our lives.
- Lines 5-6: The speaker waters his anger at night and in the morning with fears and tears. He doesn't literally water it because it's not a real plant, so watering is here a metaphor for the process of cultivating one's anger, for adding fuel to the fire, we might say.
- Line 7-8: The speaker gives his anger the sunshine it needs with his "smiles" and "soft deceitful wiles." He doesn't literally give it sunshine because it's not a plant, so "sunning" is here a metaphor for giving one's anger the nutrients it needs (Vitamin D maybe?).
- Line 9: The speaker's anger grows "day and night." There is no time that's it's not developing.
- Line 14: The speaker says the "foe" came into his garden when "night had veiled the pole." That's significant, because "the pole" could refer to the North star, which was used to guide people safely home. Here, though, when his anger is at its height, the pole is invisible to the speaker, and all is plunged into darkness. This imagery is telling of the speaker's misguided, even ignorant condition, all brought on by anger.
- Line 15: The speaker sees his "foe outstretched" in the morning, when light at last shines down on the scene. It's interesting that the foe's actual death is hidden from us, the readers. Perhaps the speaker, in his own darkness, is not aware of the consequences that such a tree might pose.