The Poison Tree

31 Oct

Illustration credit: Sharon Townshend. Apple Tree. Pencil on white paper.

Last night, at 3AM I woke up wide awake from a strange dream. The phrase with soft feminine wiles was running through my head. I was even saying it quietly under my breath.  I dreamt I was playing a game of scrabble with long-long-long-ago high school boys persons of the past.  At the onset of the game, I was acting as if I really couldn’t play well, but in actuality I was setting them up for a trap;  I knew that  I would blow them to smithereens with my next two moves.  However, I smiled sweetly and used all of my soft feminine wiles to compel them to humor me and play the game.  Strange, no question about it.  Don’t read into it, okay.  I obviously have a competitive side, or something.

The point is, laying in my bed at three in the morning having the phrase with soft feminine wiles on repeat in my head, I thought for a moment and remembered that these words were actually borrowed by my subconscious from a poem by William Blake that I was required to memorize in 10th grade English class called, The Poison Tree.  Thank you, Ms. Boswell, despite your gaudy turquoise jewelry, your coffee and cigarette breathe and let’s not forget your random comments about Playboy magazine having excellent articles (at least that’s why your husband subscribed to it, you told us) you made sure we got some solid education in literature.

Today, almost 18 years later, I’m happy to say, I can still recite most of  this poem by heart, and every time I do, I get a bit of a thrill from it (I know, I’m a cheap date).  I like that The Poison Tree has a dark and moral theme to it.  I also love the imagery and rhythm of the words, they slide off the tongue deliciously, meaning, it’s best read aloud, slowly:

The Poison Tree

William Blake

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 and 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.

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2 Responses to “The Poison Tree”

  1. Panda Wolf October 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    That poem has such haunting imagery and a great twist at the end.

    • Joy October 31, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

      It is lovely, isn’t it?

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