“I don’t like her. I hate him. She makes me angry. He is fake. It is all an act.”
Let us all confess that, at some point, we had hated someone. We harbor the hard feelings in our hearts and wear a façade to hide them. We act all elegant and nice outside but curse from inside. We are all hypocrites.
So, William Blake explores this hypocrisy in his poem “A Poison Tree”. If we are angry with the other person, our anger will disappear when we talk it out. And we do so only with our friends and not our foes. When we don’t express ourselves, we let our anger grow into something ominous.
In the second stanza, the poet illustrates how we nurture anger into a tree.
“And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.”
Fear and hate are connected to each other. Where there is fear, there is hate. This can be simply explained with an example. If a person fears bugs, then they start hating bugs. This is because they fear that bugs might bite and so they kill the bugs out of hatred arising from fear. Similarly, when we fear that our anger will be exposed, we naturally start hating. We feel wronged and shed our tears. Then wearing a façade of goodness, we fake a smile and we start manipulating. Thus, the fears, tears, smiles and wiles together nurtures the tree healthy and strong.
“And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;”
As we constantly dwell on such hard feelings, the tree grows big ‘day and night’. The tree grows until it bears ‘an apple bright’. This is an allusion to the forbidden fruit which grows in the garden of Eden. Like the forbidden tree which brings the fall of Adam and Eve, we await for the apple to cause the ruin of our foe.
One silent night, our foe trespasses into our garden and consumes the apple even after knowing it is poisoned. When we visit our poison tree in the morning, we are happy to see our foe dead.
“In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.”
The last lines show us that we are glad to witness the success of our trap for the foe. We grow the whole tree aiming for a ruin and it happens. But what is our mental state on achieving such a success? Can we really be happy at others’ downfall? If so, what kind of person are we? Are we good? or are we bad? These questions arise in our minds.
We all get angry and it is a normal human emotion. But we have to confront our anger and hold its reins before it controls us. There should be moral bounds for our anger. If not, it ruins ourselves and others. In our life, we keep dwelling on such negative emotions and keep hurting ourselves. So, let us not nurture poison trees anymore. Let’s nurture the love which the world is in need of.