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Q: analysis poem ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: analysis poem
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: alanlin-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 27 Sep 2002 18:01 PDT
Expires: 27 Oct 2002 17:01 PST
Question ID: 69903
Analysis the poem!
1. Thesis:
2. what is the poem talking about?
3. any figurative language used? 

poem: The Sick Rose
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 destory

Clarification of Question by alanlin-ga on 27 Sep 2002 21:28 PDT
How about 10 dollors
Subject: Re: analysis poem
Answered By: grimace-ga on 28 Sep 2002 03:48 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

First of all, let me introduce myself. In real life I'm an English
teacher. I've taught Blake to students several times, and every time I
get a different perspective on this poem. It's the most frustrating,
and yet the most exciting poem I know. When I was a student myself I
remember puzzling over it for hours, trying to 'solve' the poem as
though it were a crossword puzzle.

The trouble is, there's no right answer to the question "what is this
poem talking about?". To put it another way: there are many right
answers. What I'd like to do is go through my own thoughts on the
poem, then point you towards some different interpretations online.
However, what I'd like to do - after all, I'm a teacher - is to try
and give you pointers towards finding *your own* interpretation of the


First of all: the language of the poem. Blake has used thirty-four
words in 'The Sick Rose'. Twenty-nine of these are single syllables.
The effect of this is to make the poem seem very simple - it has a
nursery rhyme quality, almost.

The vocabulary of the poem is also very simple. Blake has chosen to
use basic words like 'storm' and 'night' - words which have simple
meanings but also many associations. Think of all the things you
associate with the word 'night', for instance: darkness, sleep,
dreams, sex, and so on. The key to working out an interpretation of
the poem is to look at the associations of the words. As you read it,
think about and jot down what the words mean to you.

What is the rose? There are positive words associated with it: 'life'
and 'joy'. Roses are symbols of love, of femininity, of beauty, of
sexuality. The rose is also 'crimson', a very deep red which could
suggest passion, or blood, or sin (as in 'scarlet woman'). It also has
a 'bed' - again, this could have sexual associations, or it could
suggest being 'rooted' and passive.

The worm, by contrast, is active and seems entirely negative. It is
'invisible', 'dark', 'secret'; it 'finds out' and 'destroys'. The worm
is sneaky - already invisible, it travels under the cover of darkness.
It 'loves' the rose, yet its love is completely destructive.

Blake is inviting us to see the rose and the worm as symbols - they
must 'stand for' something - but it is hard to know for certain what
that something is. A common interpretation is that the rose represents
beauty and innocence and the worm represents corruption and decay -
all beauty must inevitably grow rotten. The collection of poems in
which 'The Sick Rose' appeared, 'Songs of Experience', is full of
images of innocence becoming corrupted and ruined. Alternatively, a
feminist might see the rose as symbolising a woman and the worm a man,
which destroys the rose's life with his oppressive 'love'. A religious
reading might see the worm as being a close relative of the serpent in
the Garden of Eden, corrupting the innocent beauty of humanity with
original sin.

Any interpretation, though, will look at the use of opposites in the
poem. The worm and the rose are opposites - the worm is invisible,
fast-moving, destructive; the rose is crimson, static, and joyful.
They are in conflict; as a result, the rose ends up being slowly

I hope I've given you a key to understanding how this poem works, but
if I haven't been clear enough, please ask for further clarification.

Here are some sites you should find useful for further study:

This is an excellent site, with hypertext annotations for the poem:
The Sick Rose

A useful exercise for working out your own interpretation is suggested
Blake, The Sick Rose

SparkNotes: The Sick Rose (you will need to register to read this, but
it's free to do so)

One True Thing About Blake


Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 06:01 PDT
Thanks for answering!
I still do not know what's the thesis of this poem is andwhat kind of
figurative language is use in here!

Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 06:26 PDT
I need to write an essay about this!
What kind of 3 bodies can I write about this!

Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 06:28 PDT
Can you also give more indepth about what the poem is talking about!

Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 28 Sep 2002 06:57 PDT

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean when you ask about 'three
bodies'. Perhaps if you explained what your essay question is this
would become clearer.

Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 28 Sep 2002 08:05 PDT
Okay: here are the answers to your three questions. 

(1) It's quite unusual to describe poetry as having a 'thesis' - the
word is usually used about non-fiction and essays. Most poetry isn't
out to prove a point; rather, most good poetry attempts to interpret
or describe the world in an unusual and original way. If your teacher
is demanding that you find a thesis in 'The Sick Rose', you could say
that Blake is expressing a belief that beauty and innocence are
inevitably corrupted by the world. The rose is destroyed by the worm;
youth is destroyed by old age; innocence is destroyed by experience.

(2) On the face of it, the poem is 'talking about' a rose which is
attacked by a flying, invisible worm. However, the rose and the worm
are both symbols. The rose could symbolise beauty and innocence; the
worm the sinister evils which destroy beauty and innocence.

(3) There is virtually no figurative language in this poem. As I said
above, the language is kept deliberately simple. However, the first
phrase 'O Rose...' is called an apostrophe - the poet is addressing
the rose directly. You can find out more about apostrophe here:

Literary Terms - Apostrophe

Apart from the apostrophe, then, the language of the poem is kept
perfectly simple.

Please read my answer above again and visit the links, particularly
the SparkNotes site, which has lots of interesting commentary. If you
are going to write a good essay about this poem and get a good grade,
it's really important that you try to understand the poem yourself and
come to your own interpretation of it. As I said above, it's not a
poem for which there are easy answers.

Hope this helps,


Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 09:28 PDT
What I mean by three body is that in an essay I have to write is
Analyze the poem. In an essay there is an introduction, 3 body
pargrapgh and a conclusion!
I just would like to know if you can give me any idea how I can
construct the 3 body paragraph. Thank you for your valuable ideas.

Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 28 Sep 2002 09:32 PDT
So have you actually been given an essay title or essay question, or
have you just been told to write an essay analysing the poem?

Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 09:47 PDT
I have just been told to write an essay on and the topic was to analyze the poem!

Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 28 Sep 2002 09:54 PDT
In any case, this is how I'd structure it:


Mention the simplicity of the poem's language. Explain that it's
impossible to give a 'definite answer' about what the poem is 'about',
since it can be interpreted in many different ways.

Body 1:
Look at how the rose is described. Examine all the adjectives and
other words associated with it - 'life', 'joy', 'crimson' etc.
Consider the associations of the words. Explain what picture these
associations give of the rose.

Body 2:
Do the same for the worm and its howling storm.

Body 3:
Suggest possible interpretations. For instance, the rose could
represent innocence and the worm corruption; or the rose could
represent a child and the worm old age.

Decide on the interpretation which you like best. Briefly explain why.


If you can do all that, you will have written an excellent analytical
essay. Don't worry about 'figurative language' or finding a 'thesis' -
that approach may work with some poems but it won't with this one.
Good luck - I hope you enjoy investigating this poem further and are
drawn to read some of Blake's other poetry.


Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 10:02 PDT
OKay! I got the idea about the intro and the 1st paragraph!
What can I say about the worm??
also in your opinion what do you think about the worm and the rose respresent?

Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 28 Sep 2002 11:24 PDT
As I have mentioned above, the rose seems to represent innocence,
beauty, femininity while the worm represents its opposite - ugliness,
violence and corruption. In your paragraph on the worm, you should
pick out all the words assocated with it - 'invisible', 'dark' and so
on - and, again, explain what kind of picture these words give of the

Please make sure you have read my answers and clarifications carefully
and followed the links. Once you have read and digested everything,
and thought a little more about the poem, you should have begun to
come to your own interpretation. I'm afraid I can't help you with
actually writing the essay; in any case, I'm sure your teacher will
want you to bring some of your own ideas and interpretations to your

Unless you have any uncertainties about what I have already written, I
hope you will consider this question answered.

Best of luck with writing the essay and with the rest of your studies,


Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 21:17 PDT
I just have one other question!
you mention  It 'loves' the rose, yet its love is completely
destructive. what does that mean

Request for Answer Clarification by alanlin-ga on 28 Sep 2002 21:22 PDT
what does you also mean that which 'The Sick Rose' appeared, 'Songs of Experience'

Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 29 Sep 2002 03:03 PDT

'The Sick Rose' was published as part of a collection of poems by
Blake entitled 'Songs of Experience'. You can read some of the other
poems in the collection here:

The Wm. Blake Pages: Songs of Experience

As for the question of love: look at the last two lines of the poem -

...his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

It's the *love* of the worm which destroys the rose. Sometimes, love
can be a destructive force. Love can sometimes smother and ruin the
loved one - especially if it is a one-sided love. Think of a stalker
who obsessively sends love letters to the object of his desire - it
can be a very upsetting experience for the victim. Blake is saying
that love is not always a wonderful and life-giving thing, but can
sometimes be oppressive.

I trust I can take you at your word that that was your final question.
Once again, I wish you all the best for your essay.

alanlin-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: analysis poem
From: morningstar2000-ga on 27 Sep 2002 18:30 PDT
Dear Alanlin - 
    There is a lot of discussion on the net as to the interpretation
of this poem and its use of language.   I am afraid the price you put
on the answer is less than what I would be willing to finish you
homework assignment.   I will however give you several suggestions on
how to get the answer.

Search Strategy:
Poetic Verse Explanations The Sick Rose
Blake the Sick rose

good luck in the completion of you assignment, 

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