Study Guide

A Poison Tree Calling Card

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Calling Card

Sinister Content with Nonchalant Narration

Okay. Let's face it: "A Poison Tree" isn't the most pleasant poem in the word. It's about a guy who gets really angry and then eventually delights in the death of his "foe." Isn't that nice? No it isn't nice. It's creepy times ten. The strange thing is (and this goes for a number of Blake's other poems in both Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience) the poem has a childish quality it to it (we compare it to a nursery rhyme over in the "Form and Meter" and "Sound Check" sections). This conflict between the poem's form (with its pleasing sounds, rhythm, and rhyme) and its sobering content (you know, that stuff about unchecked anger and a dead body in a garden) is a hallmark of Blake's style, particularly in his early poetry. He's a master of delivering grim insights in sweet, unassuming little packages.

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