Essay On The Poem The Sick Rose

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 speaker, addressing a rose, informs it that it is sick. An “invisible” worm has stolen into its bed in a “howling storm” and under the cover of night. The “dark secret love” of this worm is destroying the rose’s life.


The two quatrains of this poem rhyme ABCB. The ominous rhythm of these short, two-beat lines contributes to the poem’s sense of foreboding or dread and complements the unflinching directness with which the speaker tells the rose she is dying.


While the rose exists as a beautiful natural object that has become infected by a worm, it also exists as a literary rose, the conventional symbol of love. The image of the worm resonates with the Biblical serpent and also suggests a phallus. Worms are quintessentially earthbound, and symbolize death and decay. The “bed” into which the worm creeps denotes both the natural flowerbed and also the lovers’ bed. The rose is sick, and the poem implies that love is sick as well. Yet the rose is unaware of its sickness. Of course, an actual rose could not know anything about its own condition, and so the emphasis falls on the allegorical suggestion that it is love that does not recognize its own ailing state. This results partly from the insidious secrecy with which the “worm” performs its work of corruption—not only is it invisible, it enters the bed at night. This secrecy indeed constitutes part of the infection itself. The “crimson joy” of the rose connotes both sexual pleasure and shame, thus joining the two concepts in a way that Blake thought was perverted and unhealthy. The rose’s joyful attitude toward love is tainted by the aura of shame and secrecy that our culture attaches to love.

Essay on William Blake's The Sick Rose

635 Words3 Pages

William Blake's The Sick Rose

"The sick rose" is a very ambiguous poem and open to several interpretations, Blake uses lots of imagery and effective metaphors. My first impression of the poem was that it?s very negative and includes elements of destruction revenge and perhaps even murder. I think the poems about two lovers, one of which cheated on their partner and the other wants revenge.

The poem is very contradictory, this is shown in the first line 'O Rose, thou art sick.' A rose usually symbolises beauty, romance and love, it?s a very feminine image but then it is said to be sick so we instantly sense something is wrong.
The rose could be damaged or hurt. I think the rose is playing the part of the woman…show more content…

This is in a way saying the rose has no protection and is powerless but on the other hand, although a rose is innocent and beautiful, in contrast it has thorns which can cause pain. Perhaps Blake is trying to say that the rose deserved to be hurt.

Because the worm ?Flies in the night.? It indicates that the worm is very fast and efficient and also sneaky because he?s going around in the night where he can?t be seen and no one is around.

Blake creates a very graphic picture and cleverly uses pathetic fallacy. He uses the ?Howling storm? to express the mood and feelings of the worm. I think he is also trying to express the anger the worm may be feeling and is trying to tell us that perhaps he acted on his anger without thinking first. This projects the short fiery temper of the worms character. So in addition Blake is using the weather and physical surroundings to suggest certain moods of the characters. In verse two the idea of an affair is introduced to the reader. ?Has found out thy bed of crimson joy.? Crimson is the colour of lust and passion but it?s also the colour of blood which suggests murder. I think this line is trying to tell us that the worm has discovered the rose has been having an affair and has caught her. ?and his dark secret love does thy life destroy? therefore leading to murder which was motivated by jealousy, anger and upset. Even though he did love her ?secret love? he

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