Topics for Further Study

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  • In "A Poison Tree," Blake maintains that restraining anger, rather than preventing cruelty and aggression, gives extra energy to aggression and strengthens cruelty. Organize a class debate to argue whether it is better to tell other people how you feel when you are upset with them or have a difference of opinion or to keep it to yourself and try to be accommodating.
  • Stated perhaps overly simply, Blake's idea of correspondences suggests that the way people imagine or think about something affects the way it actually is in the concrete world. Choosing an event from your own experience, write an essay that shows how the way you thought about or imagined something influenced how it "really" was. As an alternative, choose a social, national, or historical event and discuss how expectation influenced outcome.
  • After assembling a questionnaire, conduct a series of interviews with at least ten people. Find out what they think about a widely held or controversial moral or religious value or about a current law. Try to determine whether these people believe the law or moral stance accomplishes what it is supposed to accomplish and whether that goal is a worthy one. Make sure to interview people of different ages, races, sexes, religions, and class backgrounds. Report the results to the class, highlighting both individual differences and similarities among the respondents.
  • Write a poem in rhyming couplets in which you describe a vision you have had. Using the same subject, write a poem that is unrhymed. In a paragraph, describe the difficulties writing each poem presented.
  • Choose any Bible story and write a well-developed essay discussing how it is conventionally interpreted. Then show how it could be interpreted differently.
  • Write a short story in which one character deceives another while pretending to be his or her friend or believes that the deception is for the other person's "own good."
  • Using watercolors or pastels, draw a scene from "A Poison Tree." Afterward, try to find a copy of Songs of Experience with Blake's illustrations to see how he illustrates his poems.

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