The Sick Rose

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.

Summary of The Sick Rose

  • Popularity of “The Sick Rose”: This is poem was written by William Blake, a great English poet. ‘The Sick Rose’ is a wonderful short poem famous on account of its theme of corruption and destruction. It was first published in 1794 in Song of Experience. The poem speaks about a sick rose. It illustrates how a tiny worm destroys its life secretly at night. This poem is the best example of how an innocent person can be destroyed with small mistakes or inconspicuous people or sin.
  • “The Sick Rose” As a Representative of Wickedness: This poem is an expression of sorrow. On a surface level, this poem is about a rose and a worm. The poem begins when the speaker addresses a rose and informs her about the cause of her lifelong misery. He informs her that a tiny invisible worm that howls at night has cursed her life. It has inflected her with his dark secret love and destroyed her life. On a deeper level, the poem opens up many vistas for various interpretations. Rose may stand for a woman whose beauty and innocence are destroyed by jealousy and selfishness. It can also be seen in the context of patriarchal society, where women are subjugated and underestimated. The poem can also be interpreted as a rose, an innocent person can be corrupted by knowing and gaining too much knowledge.
  • Major Themes in “The Sick Rose”: Love, hatred, and destruction are the major themes underlined in this poem. The speaker takes pity on a beautiful rose whose life is made hell by a tiny flying worm. He found her in her crimson bed and cursed her with his dark secret love. The speaker has presented love as a dark and destructive thing that makes the lover stand on the verge of suffering. Unlike human emotions, the rose is presented as pure and gorgeous, but a worm in the form of love enters her life and steals her joy and beauty, leaving her to suffer for her entire life.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Sick Rose”

Literary devices are tools that the writers use to create meanings in their texts. It is through these devices they convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas and connects the reader with the real message of the text. William Blake has also used some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “O Rose thou art sick”.
  2. Allegory: It is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of characters, figures, and events. The speaker has used allegoric expression at the beginning of the poem when he informs rose about her sickness such as; “O Rose thou art sick.”
  3. Apostrophe: An apostrophe is a device used to call somebody or something from afar. Here, the poet has used an apostrophe to call the rose a thing of misery “O Rose thou art sick” expressing sorrow and sadness by calling the star directly.
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /r/ in “And his dark secret love.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues in the next line. For example,

“Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “O Rose thou art sick”, “The invisible worm/That flies in the night” and “Has found out thy bed.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. For example, “O Rose thou art sick.” Here, sickness is the metaphor of something deeper than a flower.
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. “Bed” symbolizes the ground and “crimson joy” is the symbol of the beauty of that rose.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Sick Rose”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The post has used end rhyme in the text. For example, “worm/storm” and “joy/destroy.”
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABCB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues until the end.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas in this poem with each comprises four lines.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about the selfish nature of people who ruin the life of others in the name of love.

And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.”