Essay about A Poison Tree By William Blake

1988 Words Nov 6th, 2016 8 Pages
A Poison Tree by William Blake is ostensibly dealing with the narrator’s refusal to communicate his anger to a tree, but the overdetermined nature of the words Blake uses makes a final determination of meaning impossible. In this paper, I will examine how the inherent contradictions contained within the metaphors used in this poem draw a reader away from their initial assumption (i.e. this poem is about a man accepting his feelings of wrath) into interpretations Blake may not have intended. And conversely, I will demonstrate how the complexity of the possible determinations of both the overdetermined words and the metaphorical conflicts do not cause the poem to lose its ultimate effect. Instead, these variations and conflicting meanings highlight the complexity of the situation the narrator is faced with.
To begin studying the overdetermined nature of the words and metaphors Blake uses in A Poison Tree I must start with the title; A Poison Tree cannot simply refer to a poisonous tree, or a tree that causes one harm upon contact or ingestion. If this was the case, if the tree was in fact a poison tree, why would the narrator keep it in his garden? “I told my wrath, my wrath did end.” (Blake Line 2) “I told it not, my wrath did grow.” (Blake 4)
The lines quoted above highlight the internal/external or within/without conflict inherent to the tree/wrath metaphor; how does the poison tree, which I can only assume the narrator has allowed to grow, relate to his wrath? How does…

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