My Pretty Rose-Tree, written by William Blake, is a poem of love, jealousy, and sorrow. This eight-line poem, following the abab acac rhyme pattern, is full of strong symbolism and a great deal of personification, all used in an attempt to express the narrators feelings. William Blake brings the flowers alive with the personified characteristics he has given to them. Blake is describing a man who is completely in-love with one women, while at the same time he is being tempted by another. This mans love for his lady at home is so great that he passed the sweet-flower oer (Line 4) and returns home. When he tells his lady of the encounter she leaves him because of extreme jealousy.
This poem seems like it could be a wonderful love poem with the whole rose/flower theme, but it turns into a sorrowful disaster story leaving all three characters in the poem devastated and alone. Blakes great use of symbolism brings the poem to life. And her thorns were my only delight (Line 8). This line fits the poem so perfectly. Such a delicate flower is the rose, but if one is not careful the thorns can break the skin and cause great pain. This describes exactly how the man is feeling in the poem. This man deserves great pity, because he thought he was doing the right thing by rejecting Such a flower as May never bore; (Line 2) and then having the love of his life leave him for it. What is a guy supposed to do?
William Blakes The Lily is a great poem of love and beauty. These four lines of poetry are packed full with descriptive symbolisms. Blake is describing how beautiful, pure, and wonderful his Lily is. His comparisons of a rose, a sheep, and a lily are so very interesting. He is saying that a humble sheep and a modest rose use a threatning horn or a thorn to hide their true self, while the lily has nothing and wants nothing to hide behind. Modesty and humble are used as something one does not want to have. His use of the word Modesty is used as a prudish self-protection. This lack of classification is what makes the Lily so beautiful, so pure, so White. Yet, if a lily can be stained, does that not take away from the purity and high classification of it? Should it not be thrown back into the group with the sheep and the rose?
Both of these poems are very similar, especially with the theme of flowers. Many of Blakes poems deal with flowers, gardens, and nature, which are symbolic of his unconditional love for a specific person. These two poems in particular use flowers to symbolize beauty/purity, and the thorns of a rose symbolize the downside to love, or the heartbrokenness.
Blake uses a rose to symbolize lustful beauty, but soon changes his mind about how wonderful roses are after being heartbroken. He then turns to a lily instead of a rose to describe beautiful purity. He even stoops low enough in The Lily to criticize the rose for having thorns, saying that roses use thorns to protect themselves from having to show their true feelings.
My Pretty Rose-Tree deals more with jealousy and sorrow, while The Lily is just describing the love and lust for the perfect person. Blake does not say whether or not the Lily is obtainable, but he still rejects the idea that a rose is considered the best, or higher than any other flower.
Is it possible for one person to be completely perfect and pure? If so, then is it conceivable to think that one specific type of flower can sum up the love a person feels for another? William Blake writes about someone who finds the perfect person, only to find out that they are not so pure and wonderful as first thought. Blake tries to give love a name, or a category, when he knows that it is not possible to do such a thing. Whether it is a rose, a lily, a garden, or a sunflower, William Blake finds a way to make love seem like it is the most pure feeling a person can have.
But I said Ive a Pretty Rose-tree,
But my Rose turnd away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.
The humble Sheep a threatning horn;
While the Lily white shall in Love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.
Blake, William. My Pretty Rose-Tree. Ed. Barbara Lloyd-Evans, Five
Hundred Years Of English Poetry: Chaucer to Arnold. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1989. 640-641.
Blake, William. The Lily. Ed. Barbara Lloyd-Evans, Five Hundred Years
Of English Poetry: Chaucer to Arnold. New York: Peter Bedrick
Books, 1989. 640-641.