William Blake’s Poison Tree. I love the first stanza by itself. The other three are like poison icing on the poison cake.
The picture (from the Library of Congress web site) is of Blake’s
original work. He wrote it, illustrated it, engraved it, printed it,
hand colored it and sold it.
Here is a copy of the original document.
I read the first stanza I say to myself, “how true.” Then I say to
myself again, “how true, how true.” And so I read it again and again
till I don’t have to read it anymore, I know it already and I say to
myself, “how true, how true, how true"—till the tears begin to well up
in my eyes and again I say to myself, “this is so beautiful and so true
I’m going to carve it in stone so it will still be here a thousand
years and a day from now.”
Then I see there is more and so I say, “I had better read on.” And so I
do read on until at the end of the last line my small intestines are
twisting themselves into great huge knots and I look down at the foe at
my feet, dead by my own heart and hand. But before the body is cold I
lift my eyes, taking a cleansing breath, and I rise and turn,
forgetting what manner of man I am.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
The poem in plain text:
I was angry with my friend ;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.