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A Poison Tree

A Poison Tree

by William Blake

Stanza 1 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-2

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

  • As the poem opens, the speaker describes how he was angry with his friend. Bad times.
  • Still, he told his friend he was angry ("I told my wrath"), and presumably why he was angry, and his anger disappeared. Happy days are here again!
  • We notice that these lines are linked with end rhyme and a pretty consistent rhythm. We wonder if this form will continue. (Spoiler alert: Check out "Form and Meter" for more on this.)

Lines 3-4

I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

  • The speaker describes a different scenario, now. He was once angry with his "foe" (a.k.a. his enemy), but didn't tell him about it.
  • Since the speaker did not talk about his anger ("I told it not"), his anger got bigger and bigger ("my wrath did grow"). 
  • You know how, when you keep something bottled up inside, it tends to make that feeling more intense and overwhelming? We're guessing that this is what's going on for the speaker here.
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