ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Sick Rose

Updated on September 27, 2017

The Sick Rose, a poem by William Blake

The Sick Rose, a reader’s approach:

To be simple is probably the most difficult thing on earth for the species called Homo sapiens. We expect things to appear simple; as they do so the next thing we do is to entangle the so called simplicity with complication questioning, if not find anything better, why it looks so simple. And that is exactly what I am trying to do now with, The Sick Rose, by William Blake.

Bridging between the neoclassical eras with the ever electrifying Romantic Period, William Blake did indeed a gigantic task of breaking away with the poetic rules & dictions that the poems were chained in. He ushered in the Romantic Movement applying imagination imbued with simplicity. But to what extent his works remain simple?

The Sick Rose, often considered, the most beautiful poem written by Blake, is constructed on an 8 line structure initiated with a simple line:

"O Rose, thou art sick."

We get the very first jolt having identified rose, the symbol of love, beauty etc. with ‘sick’ standing antagonistic to it. The word, rose undeniably has got an unparallel appeal to our mind to have us all feel like singing in the tune of Robert Burns:

"My love is like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June:

My love is like the melody,

That’s sweetly played in tune."

But as we approach the last word, sick, another window opens up to look over a sick society where April turns out to be ‘the cruelest month’, ‘where invading army clashes over night’, and where the Scholar Gipsy won’t ever return to. So the first thing we come out with is that Beauty gone Sick. And what comes next is:

"The invisible worm,

That flies in the night

In the howling storm".

The physical set up is just like a horror film or more fearful to keep the reader panic- stricken, for those who feel before read. To get things orchestrated let the words, invisible, flies, night, howl & storm to be concentrated on. The blood sucking, grueling monsters fly at night, under the cover of darkness. And as we know nothing is more dangerous than the darkness both outside and inside, and nothing is more frightening than the thing we don’t see, ‘invisible’ and ‘night’ make us a point. The danger shaped in black gets stronger to eat our soul out leaving our wings of imagination fly to a virgin girl fair enough to be in a duel against protecting her chastity. To give a special effect storm is introduced by the poet in its profound ferocity as if Poseidon himself comes out of resting to lead the evil forces from Pluto’s underworld. Storm, the very word, always works well meeting the purpose of a writer in trouble delivering the mental conflict. Macbeth’s witches always appear in storm, Hamlet can never meet his father’s ghost without the very howling storm, and even King Lear fails to identify the true nature of life without the presence of a howling storm. But whatever imagery the symbolic storm touches down, whenever it finds its way through literature we can have, going down slightly the surface layer, the taste of dual nature of it, one way making an image of its dreadful appearance and the other the other way idealizing the inner self storming inside out.

Getting back to the last line of the first stanza we finally discover our Rose struggling with howling storm in a ‘Waste Land’, idealizing the sickening society which is :

“…like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain:”

(Dover Beach: Mathew Arnold)

As we approaches to the last part, we see the anti climax taking place:

“Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy”

We don’t need to focus on a lot of words now to unearth the plot. Things set to get going as naturally April becomes the cruelest month for breeding lilacs; as naturally the typist girl of ‘The Waste Land’ ( by T.S. Eliot) gets seduced:

“..he assaulted at once ;

Exploring hands encounter no defense;

His vanity requires no response.”

But the phrase, crimson joy, is planted so artistically as not to pack up with a natural conclusion .There was joy as not to be found in the waste land. The tension which was mounting up would have been released, had the word crimson signifying dark red not been there. Red, especially when it is dark propel us to think of death in two different ways leading to death: one signifying the death of virginity and the other reminding us of the ancient mariner (The Ancient Mariner; Samuel Taylor Coleridge) , who experienced Death itself with the dark red lips & kiss of death thrust upon his fellows.

Let’s put aside ‘crimson’. However transient the joy might be, the phrase, ‘thy bed’ paves way to another possibility like the piercing beams of light at the end of a tunnel. The invisible worm stays active in the subconscious layer of psyche of our Rose.

Taking a u turn it’s time to go for the most striking segment, the concluding lines of the poem:

"And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy?"

We come across ‘dark’ again but, going against its nature, it appears this time to illuminate the word ‘secret’, which lays a question bare open: when love should be so.

In this regard Sigmund Freud might help us with his crystallization of the psyche. All our drives including sexual desires are born in our id (the unconscious level of our mind) and try to peep out crossing the safety bulb guarding against them in our subconscious layer. And it is our society that plays the vital role in shaping the safety bulb. Providing that a drive or desire go against the social norms or conventional ideology it has to be plummeted down. It is when secrecy emerges out in the dark layer of our id. But more a passion gets stronger the more the inner conflict gets stormy, the balance among the layers go awry to turn our life a shadow of life like living corps:

“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,

Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?”

Standing in the end it worth’s remembering that killing one's passion is a crime to the romantics and whether you are romantic or not the sugar coated simplicity it all begins with ‘The Sick Rose’ leaves you on a quest: who is sick? The Rose, the society or the drive sprouts in our mind?

Atique

05.04.2012

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      kkkl 

      4 years ago

      tgutfi

    • Atiquemr9 profile imageAUTHOR

      Atiquemr9 

      5 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      Thank you very much Sir. In fact this is the best comment I have ever had in my life...

    • Emanate Presence profile image

      Gary R. Smith 

      5 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      And you are an investment banker? :-)

      You have a keen mind, willing and able to lead the way to places which few are bold enough to look upon. I love your exploration and explanation.

      It doesn't hurt that William Blake wrote one of my favorites,

      "He who binds to himself a joy

      doth the winged life destroy.

      "He who kisses the joy as it flies

      lives in Eternity's sunrise."

      Your Hub is voted to the sky.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)