Poem introduction

If 'The Tyger' is one of the most anthologised poems in English, this is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing and creepy. The poem mimics its subject, insinuating itself into the reader’s mind and ear, worming its way in. Its very ambiguity, yielding as many interpretations as it is short, unsettles and fills one with bodily dread; a radiation of meaning that runs along the veins and nerves. The voice of the poem has a downward spiralling motion, penetrative, settling at the core. And the separation between speaker and subject, the triangle between speaker rose and worm, heighten the sense of morbid entrapment. Technically, the manipulation of the anapaests and iambic substitutions is superb, and the rhymes read vertically tell the whole story: sick worm, night storm, bed joy, love destroy.

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.

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William Blake

William Blake Downloads read by Mimi Khalvati

1The Sick Rose


2The Tyger


3The Chimney Sweeper - When my mother ...


4The Chimney sweeper - A little black thing...