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Exegesis of A Poison Tree

            In Blake's "A Poison Tree,"" the speaker, probably a young woman, tells of a grudge she holds against her enemy and the torture it inflicts upon her. Ultimately, her careful strategy and seduction of the enemy through the temptation of an "apple- allows her to destroy her foe and release her own anguish. The setting for much of the poem is a garden, a clear allusion to the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve. As the speaker continues to boil and brew her anger at another, her "tears- begin to nurture a tree and, upon it, an apple representative of the infamous apple of temptation in the story of Adam and Eve. While she attempts to mask this anger "with smiles,"" (l.7) she gives further encouragement to her anger and become increasingly and more tortured by this "wrath- she knows she is destined to inflict. .
             Blake uses personification to emphasize the allusion to the Bible but also to make the poem seem almost sing-songy and carefree. In the initial lines, the speaker addresses her "wrath- over troubles with a friend. Their relationship enables the speaker to vent to the wrath as though it were another acquaintance, to achieve forgiveness and release from the grudge. The wrath cannot inflict any further pain upon her or the friend. The foe, however, is denied such congenial treatment by this "wrath,"" and instead the "wrath did grow- (l.4) and metaphorically begins to sprout to eventually become a tree. The speaker then cares for this tree with "tears- of rain and "smiles- of sunshine, further emphasizing the childlike metaphor of an innocent gardener and her meticulous care of her plants. The speaker also repeats images of "night and morning- (l.6) and "day and night- (l.9) to emphasize the struggle between good and evil and thus the struggle between enemies and the torture it creates in the speaker's life. When the tree of wrath is fully grown, it "bore an apple bright- (l.10), the apple of temptation as in the story of Adam and Eve, but also an example of alliteration, where the repetition of the hard b-sound serves to display the luster and texture of the apple itself.

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