What theme is most strongly present in “A Poison Tree”? Why is this poem a “song of experience”?

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The theme most strongly present in "A Poison Tree" is how anger grows into hatred. The poem is a "song of experience" because it relies on experience of the way in which emotions develop and become toxic when repressed.

The first two lines of "A Poison Tree" describe...

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The theme most strongly present in "A Poison Tree" is how anger grows into hatred. The poem is a "song of experience" because it relies on experience of the way in which emotions develop and become toxic when repressed.

The first two lines of "A Poison Tree" describe a healthy expression of anger within friendship. The rest of the poem, however, describes how unexpressed anger can fester into hatred, becoming poisonous in the process. The tree mentioned in the title provides an extended metaphor for the speaker's anger, which he tends carefully until it bears poisonous fruit, capable of killing his enemy.

Any poetic treatment of a tree bearing poisoned fruit is likely to remind the reader of the fall of man in the Bible. Blake's religion was highly complex and largely of his own making, but he seems to be saying that hatred is more toxic in its effects than the knowledge of good and evil. The strength of the poison is emphasized by the way in which the speaker is still glad to see the death of his enemy at the end of the poem. His anger survives the death of its object.

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