Jan 4, 2010

The Sick Rose

by William Blake

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 destroy.

The Complete Poetry & Prose of William BlakeA short poem  sometimes looks simple on its face, but there's something cryptic and disturbing going on here. Like most of Blake's poetry, it is infused with symbolism. What symbolic sense can we make of the sick rose? What does it suggest? The poem invites us to enter into this symbolic world -- can you make all the elements relate: the rose, the worm, the dark secret love? Interpretations will surely vary from person to person.  Like so many great poems, this one is a kind of matrix or thought engine: you plug in an interpretative set of options and see what the poem produces. This could be a poem about love, carnal desire, nature, evil, lost innocence, disease, sex, man and woman -- probably some combination of all.