A Poison Tree by William Blake (Blake 62)
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 watered 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 veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Summary: This poem shows the darkness and tragedy that anger kept hidden for so long can ultimately result to. The person who is the subject of the poem first tells his anger to a friend, and the problem was solved then and there. In the second time, he decided to keep to himself, letting the problem hidden, and his anger grow inside himself day by day. He further fed it with fear, sadness and disappointments, and covered it up with smiles. Time came when like a fruit hanging from a tree; his anger was finally obvious to everyone, including the subject of his anger. His enemy came to the garden, to steal the apple bore from his anger tree. The last stanza states that he was happy to see the subject of his hatred lying underneath the tree, presumably dead or killed by the poison of the fruit. This symbolizes the corruption of the speaker’s soul or humanity, since he celebrates the demise of another human being.
Narrative Conversion: When I told my anger to my friend it stopped and finally disappeared. But when I never told an enemy my anger it did grow.
I fed it with fear and tears every night and every day and sunned it with deceiving smiles.
As it grew and bore the fruit my enemy noticed that it was mine.
At night he went into my garden to steal my apple.
In the morning, I was happy to see my enemy lying beneath the tree (dead).
Observation: The narrative is easier to understand because the words used are direct to the point. This poem’s message is dark, because it tells how a simple anger, when left hidden and fed with more negative emotions, is like an evil lion biding its time to kill and wreak havoc. No matter what, uncontrolled anger spells tragedy to people, and most of all, to the person who holds onto it.
When converted to narrative, the darkness of the poem becomes less obvious, and therefore less appealing to imagination. It doesn’t look as attractive to readers as it was before. The metaphors gave the poem more color, albeit in dark ones, and removing it is like seeing a morbid scenery in faded black and white. So it’s not that scary anymore.
If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking – Emily Dickinson (Dickinson 5)
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Summary: The poem states that doing good things, even the simplest ones (eg. putting a fainting robin back to its nest) give meaning to life. Compassion and sympathy for all things living is the true meaning of life.
I won’t live in vain if I can stop one heart from breaking.
I won’t live in vain if I can ease the pain in one’s life or make it cool, or put a weakened robin back in its nest.
Observation: The original poem was already straightforward in its words, and narrative in format. There were no metaphors or personifications used, hence, it doesn’t change so much when changed into sentence narratives.
Blake, W. “A Poison Tree”. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Ed. Johnson, R.
Brimley. Guildford, London: The Astolaf Press, 1901, 62. Print.
Dickinson, E. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Boston: Little, Brown, 1924, 5;
Bartleby.com, 2000. www.bartleby.com/113/. [11 December 2015].