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Monday, June 1, 2015

Poem Analysis,Subject Summarisation And Explanation : 'The Sick Rose' By William Blake

The third poem included in the syllabus of Class XI is 'The Sick Rose' by William Blake.Since Blake himself was a humanist and anti-sexist from the Romantic age,the poem is certainly deeper than it seems to be after the first read.
As given in the book,in this poem Blake brings together the sense of innocence and experience and suggests in the presence of the worm,the dark side of sexuality.
Blake regarded innocence and experience as essential components of the human soul.He emphasised that by juxtaposing  together extremely different perspectives (the components often being regarded of opposites of each other) and contrasting realities such as the light and the dark,the perfect and the imperfect,growth and decay,life and death.

The Sick Rose
(Credit : Source)

O Rose thou art sick. 
The invisible worm, 
That flies in the night 
In the howling storm: 

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.





Hand-coloured print, issued c.1826. A copy held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.




Poem Analysis,Summarisation And Explanation


The poem has been written in two quatrains (each stanza consists of four lines) the rhyme scheme abcb,defe.
The subject matter of the poem is more than simply the flower rose and the presence of a worm. Blake was known for his use of stark juxtaposition within completely opposite elements in philosophy.He used the counter-effect of prominance of one element against the other such as darkness ad light,happiness and sorrow.This sort of juxtaposition is clearly visible in this poem but in a sense,this is deeper than that.
The invisible worm is said to be indulged in a flight at night,in a destructively raging storm.The worm has been described with the adjective 'invisible' to claim a sense of deceit,as if the rose does not yet know the presence of the worm and as such it does not know the meaning of danger that comes along with the worm's presence.
The word 'howling' here has been used to emphasise that the storm is heavy and makes noise like the howling of a wild animal.These minute,fine attributes bring out the true essence of romanticism,darkness and beauty in the poem.
The rose does not seem to have invited the worm,since the worm is said to have discovered the rose's bed.The phrase 'of crimson joy' perhaps intensifies the beauty of the rose.
Love in the third line of the second quatrain has been said to be dark.This probably tries to claim that the love of the worm for the rose is clandestine,secret,hidden.
And this dark,secret love slowly destroys the life of the rose.




William Blake 


The expression of the worm's love for the rose has been said to be dark.This can simply be perceived as a real worm who is indulging himself in crimson joy within the rose but is at the same time,destroying life.Since the way life here is being affected is negative,it becomes quite clear that the poem means more than the apparently simpler philosophy it seems to impart to the mind.
It might very well be suited to expressing the darker,undesired sides of sexuality,dominance owing to the fact that Blake was an activist who fought gender bias in his era.
The poem at the same time consists of mysticism,beauty,darkness,romanticism and one can taste more than the usual,classic style in which most of the mention-worthy romantic poets used.However,it uses a very modern approach,without seeming vulgar even if the issue is harsh and tough.Overall,this poem is a success in all the ways it can be and even if it consists of only eight lines,the impact it creates on the mind of the reader is truly remarkable. 



Special Credit : 'Mindscapes : Higher Secondary English Selections' Printed by Orient Blackswan on behalf of West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE).

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