The Sick Rose
The Sick Rose
by William Blake

The Sick Rose Theme of Love

In "The Sick Rose," love isn't what we expect it to be; it's not that timeless, cohesive force that other poets, movies, and books always talk about. It's "dark" and "secret" and doesn't really do anything good for the rose; it's almost like a disease that infects the rose and destroys it. Love definitely isn't all you need in this poem.

Questions About Love

  1. Are sex and love the same thing in this poem?
  2. What is "dark secret love" anyway? Do you think it's a euphemism for something else, like rape?
  3. If "dark secret love" refers to sex, shouldn't it be private, i.e. "secret"?
  4. If this is a poem that has to do with love, why isn't there anything happy or joyful in it? What is Blake saying about love?

Chew on This

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

The kind of love described in the poem is bad because it is "dark" and "secret." The poem suggests that love should be public, or at least not secret.

Love isn't what we normally think of as love; it means something more like sex, which suggests that the speaker of the poem is viewing the situation from a flawed perspective.

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