“The Sick Rose” (William Blake)

Posted on May 4, 2011


April 10th, 2011

Dita Surya Kartika

Introduction to Poetry Analysis

Response#2 to “The Sick Rose” (William Blake)

The analysis of the poem “The Sick Rose” will start with critically interpretations of the poem. The viewpoints of the poem concentrate upon three areas to interpret the poem. First, the overall sense of the poem is taken from the point of view of someone who is closely related to the “Rose”. This person witnesses the downfall of the “Rose” after her “bed of Crimson joy” had been found by the “worm”. There is no single clue about the identity of the speaker, whether it is a man or woman. However, the position of the speaker as “a reporter” of the happening may be more than enough to grasp the idea of the whole event. Second, that the figure of the “worm” and his actions are the keys to understand the sequence of events of the poem’s narrative. The last, the poem’s physical attributes such as spacing and capitalization are considered as a contribution to meaning.

Frankly speaking, the poem is about a woman whose happiness had been corrupted by a man. The man is symbolized as a “worm”. It can be argued that the woman had already put the faith on him but the man misused it. The woman did not aware because she is in love with him.

Feeling insecure, the woman put her faith in the man. Instead of feeling happy and relieved, her trust is damaged. “Invisible” and “dark” show that the woman did not have a clue that she made a mistake by falling in love with him. It is because the “night” makes her blind and make the bad intention of the man “invisible”. In addition, the “howling storm” can be interpreted the insecurity of the woman.

Comments on the visual arrangement of the poem firstly addressed to the spacing.

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed

Of Crimson joy;

Actually, this spacing makes ambiguities. Concerning the punctuation marks, the full sentence could be “The invisible worm, that flies in the night, in the howling storm has found out thy bed of Crimson joy.” If the sentence were reconstructed like this, the one who has found out the bed is the “worm”. This evidence matches up with the presumption that the “worm” is the one who destroy the Rose’s faith, as has been discussed in the previous paragraphs. But why there is a space between the lines? It seems that the poem, to the exclusion of the ABCB rhyme, should be just one stanza and is a very short poem. However, the speaker wants to give a pause in his report. The spacing can be interpreted as a natural tempo in a love life. The man did not directly seize the woman’s happiness but he needs a certain time and process to accomplish that. This process is seen in the spacing. Now, why the words Rose and Crimson were written in capitals? A simple explanation to this is the Rose represents a woman, the quality of being feminine. The Crimson in “Crimson joy” is capitalized merely because it is the woman’s biggest secret. The man needs a specific effort to find it.

In conclusion, the poem’s narrative is about a love life seeing from an objective persona. From a third person, it can be revealed true facts that have been unseen because it is blocked by excessive emotions. In this poem, those hidden facts are unpleasant to be presented.

Poem’s Paraphrase:

O Lady, you have been blinded by your love towards the man. That man took your heart and make fun of you. He found your weakness of insecurity and is now giving you a fake feeling of joy.

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