The sick Rose summary

By William Blake

About the Poem

“The Sick Rose” is a short and beautiful Poem, written by William Blake, and published in 1794. He uses symbols connecting the sensuous with the emotional and the moral meanings. Being as an illusionary poet, he uses symbols in an elusive way.

The poem is written in two stanza consisting four lines each and separated in two sets or quatrains. The poem follows the rhyme scheme of ABCB DEFE.

Theme of the Poem

The theme of poem is based on Love, Hatred and destruction. The poet describes the situation of a flower Rose “as sick rose” whose life has become hell because of a tiny ‘worm’.

Summary and Analysis

This poem is about a “Rose” and a “worm”, but it is obvious that there is a hidden meaning in the poem. The things and the situation described in the poems are all symbolic. They imply something more than what they are. Blake uses contrast as a poetic device to convey his meaning, thus rose and worm and joy and destroy are paired off.

The second word in each pair suggests beauty and happiness.  The implication seems to be that the dark secret lover, travelling in the stormy night stealthily found out the happy state, “bed of crimson joy”, of the rose and destroy its life, while good or virtue is indicated by “bed of crimson joy”, evil is indicated by a number of words: sick, worm, night, howling storm, dark secret, destroy. A liberal use of words suggesting evil as against a single phrase suggesting happiness, perhaps shows that good is surrounded by evil.

Although, we know that the worm stands for evil, we do not know the nature of that evil. It may be lust, sin, destruction, or death. The mystery is compounded because the worm is described as “invisible”. It is engaged in secret activities: finding out the bed, expressing `dark secret lover`.

The rose which stands for purity or innocence is perhaps ruined by (the worm) experience; the rose which is a symbol of love is perhaps destroyed by selfishness; the rose which is a thing of beauty is wrecked by jealousy.

Harold Bloom finds a human parallel in this allegorical poem. According to his view, the poem attacks the myth of female flight and male pursuit, of female resistance and male destruction. Where the `rose`s crimson bed` is concealed, the destruction (rape- marriage) becomes a social ritual.

The rose is employed by the poet as a personal symbol which is capable of different interpretations. The poem makes on thing clear. A crimson rose has been entered and sickened and destroy by a worm secretly. This destruction caused by secrecy, deceit, hypocrisy and pain.

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