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A Poison Tree Notes and Question

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  1 A POISON TREE By WILLIAM BLAKE 1.   LITERAL MEANING STANZA 1 The persona was angry with his friend. He dealt with his angry feelings and his anger melted away. He was angry with his enemy and did not sort it out with the latter. STANZA 2 The persona fed his angry feelings with fears and tears daily. He also put on a friendly front to deceive others about his anger. STANZA 3 The angry feeling grew so strongly inside the persona that it became ‘ a poison tree’. The persona compared it to an appl e tree that bore fruit or ‘an apple bright’. The enemy saw the fruit and knew it belonged to the persona.  STANZA 4 The enemy entered the persona’s garden quietly at night when it was dark to steal the apple. In the morning, the  persona saw his enemy lying on the ground beneath the tree. 2.   FIGURATIVE MEANING STANZA 1 In life, our relationship with others are normally based on two groups of people- 1. friends, those we can get along with 2. rivals,those who are hostile to us. Disagreement among friends are never long lasting because good feeling, trust and confidence override hostility. Friends would normally sit down and talk. I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow. And I watered it in fears,  Night & morning with my tears: And I sunned it with smiles, And with soft deceitful wiles. And it grew both day and night. Till it bore an apple bright. And my foe beheld it shine, And he knew that it was mine. And into my garden stole, When the night had veiled the pole; In the morning glad I see; My foe outstretched beneath the tree.  2 STANZA 2 On the other hand, when exchange words with our rivals or people who are hostile, we tend to close our minds and not try to solve the unpleasant exchange of words. We go all out to pretend that everything is fine by putting on a false front. STANZA 3 We allow it to fester within ourselves with unpleasant thoughts. We keep the anger inside and become obsessed until it builds up and poison our thinking as well as our sense of right and wrong. We let it grow out of  proportion. STANZA 4 Eventually we make no effort to hide our unpleasant feelings even at the risk of hurting our rivals. We might even feel happy when misfortune befalls our rivals 3.   THEMES 1.   Keeping anger and its destructive consequences bottled up 2.   Bad feelings like anger among friends and rivals 3.   Human nature 4.   Communication among friends and rivals 5.   Obsession and its consequences 6.   The danger of holding back one’s feeling  7.   Insincerity and deceit 8.   Anger, revenge and death 4. MORAL VALUES 1.   We should not allow anger to control our life 2.   We should express our feelings in a healthy way and not bottle them up 3.   We should make peace with everyone, friend and foe 4.   We should know that obsession can lead to loss of self-control and destruction 5.   We should be sincere, even with our rivals 6.   We should not wish ill on anyone including people we are not comfortable with. 5. POINT OF VIEW & LANGUAGE AND STYLE a)   Point of view First person point of view  b)   Language and style Indirect expression which requires some consideration in understanding it Tendency to use word with multiple meanings,which are not immediately obvious A message cum advise to get anger out of one’s system  6. POETIC/LITERARY DEVICES 1.   Personification Waters the wrath with fear I told my wrath, my wrath did end 2.   Metaphor -The tree is considered as a wrath/anger - Till it bore an apple bright , the apple is a metaphor for the fruit of his grudge.  3 3.   Alliteration -sunned and smiles -friend and foe -bore and bright 4.   Imagery -Throughout the poem 5.   Irony -the foe beneath the tree of hatred 6.   Repitition - “I was angry with my friend… I was angry with my foe”  7.   Allusion - Garden.. apple...tree alludes to Adam & Eve, the Garden of Eden. 7. ANALYSIS STANZA BY STANZA STANZA 1 :William Blake speaks of someone, his friend and his foe, whom has he is angry with.When he says ‘I told my wrath, my wrath did end’ after he said he was angry with his friend, he is saying he was able to get over being angry with his friend and forgot about it. Although, it is quite the opposite when he mentions’ I told it not, and my wrath did grow’. Blake is saying that with his enemy, he allowed himself to get angry, and therefore, his wrath did grow STANZA 2 :In this stanza, Blake begins to make his anger grow and he takes pleasure in it, comparing his anger with something, in this case, a tree or plant. The speaker says he ‘sunned it with smiles’ and ‘and with soft, deceitful wiles’. This means he is creating an illusion with his enemy saying he is pretending to be friendly to seduce and bring him closer. STANZA 3 :‘And it grew both day and night’ and ‘til it bore an apple bright’ are meaning that his illusion with his enemy is growing and growing until it became a strong and tempting thing. His illusion has a metaphor and it is an apple. After, his foe believes it shines, which means he t hinks it’s true and means something, and takes Blake illusion seriously. ‘And he knew it was mine’ suggests that he really thinks Blake is his friend. STANZA 4 :Being the last stanza, Blake needed to come up with a conclusion. He has used the two lines ‘in the morning glad I see’ and ‘my foe outstretched beneath the tree’ to say that his foe finally fell to his tempting illusion and metaphorically, consumed his poison apple and died. So, obviously, his malicious intentions were hidden behind illusion and he prevailed over his enemy. 8. CRITICAL APPRECIATION    In the first stanza, the consequence of allowing anger to continue instead of stopping it as it begins is shown. This consequence is simply that it will continue to grow. However, as the poem progresses, it is seen that this continued growth of anger can yield harmful results as the enemy, or foe, is lured toward the tree and eats of its fruit, the poison apple. This kills his foe, as he is seen outstretched beneath the tree, a sight the speaker is glad to see the next morning. These final two lines explain one of the main themes of the poem, which is that anger leads to self- destruction. The speaker’s anger gr  ows and eventually  becomes so powerful that it has changes from simple anger with another person, to desire to see them dead. One of the subjects of Blake’s work was the underworld, or Hell, and knowing this, it can be seen that the destruction which results from anger is not physical, but spiritual. In addition, the death of the foe, which the speaker is glad to see, does not spiritually affect the foe as the speaker is affected, but only  physically harms the foe.  4 Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow. SET 1 a) ‘I told my wrath, my wrath did end’  What is the feeling expressed in the line above? …………………………………………………………………………………… [ 1 mark ]   b) How do you think the persona is able to gain his enemy’s trust? ………………………………………………………………………………………  .................................................................................................................................. [ 1 mark ] c) What do you think happened to the persona’s foe from the line My foe outstretched beneath the tree?  .................................................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................................... [ 1 mark ] d) The persona in the poem is very angry with his foe. If you were his friend, what advice would you give him? Advice 1 :………………………………………………………………….....................  Advice 2 :……………………………………………………………………………… [ 1 mark ]  SET 2 a) In Stanza 1, which phrase in the poem means ‘no longer angry with my friend’?  .................................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................................... [ 1 mark ]  b) In stanza 2, what do you understand by the phrase watered it? .................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................. [ 1mark ] c) Why do you think the persona was full with soft deceitful wiles? .................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................. [ 1 mark ] d) My wrath did grow In what way did the persona ‘grow’ his wrath ? Give a  reason to support your answer. Way :........................................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................................ [ 1 mark ] Reason :.................................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................................... [ 1 mark ]
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