Study Guide

The Sick Rose Setting

By William Blake


Imagine you're working on your hands and knees in your garden one day. You've already tidied up your vegetable patch and you've just moved on to the flower bed when you notice that one of your roses is brown. You know you didn't plant any brown roses—is there such a thing?—so something must be wrong. "O rose thou art sick," you exclaim. "Thou art sick?" Must be all that poetry you've been reading that's making you talk like that!

After half an hour you can't seem to find out what's wrong. And then you notice it: a tiny worm, almost invisible, right there in the middle of the rose. You exclaim to yourself, "wow, that little thing did all this damage?" You keep thinking it over and before you know it you're making up a little poem: "The invisible worm / That flies in the night…Has found out thy bed / Of crimson joy: / And with his dark secret love / Does thy life destroy." You can't believe those words came out of your mouth, as you never fancied yourself a poet. Who would've thought?