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The Sick Rose

William Blake

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Added by: lina
The comment about the priesthood is correct or the worm can also symbolize religious guilt, take an english class and your professor will back you up!
Added by: grace
i am international student fore me this poem is very difficult to understand could you send me the translation of this poem -the sick rose... thank you for your help!!
Sick Rose
Added by: Sienna L F M -London, U.K.
This poem is about rape. The Rose is an innocent woman. Rose may just be meant to characterise her or it could be her name. Yet it is a sick Rose therefore subverting everything a rose is meant to be for the worm has tresspassed against her and degraded her. The worm is a sickly invading creature which destroys the woman FROM within -rather like the brutal act of rape. The image of the black cankered worm on blood red petals is evocative and deadly in the colour combination.

Hope this helped
South Hampstead High
Comments of the poem
Added by: Sharon
This poem deals with the loss of a young girl's virginity (being the sick rose) and the male which is responsible for breaking her virginity (being the worm). There is a lot more depth to this poem which requires a lot of thought and good analytical skills. However, giving original ideas about the poem is highly recommended, but needs to be backed up by using appropriate quotes FROM the poem.
Sick Rose - Blake
Added by: Asia
My Thoughts and Questions:

Rose - represents beauty, femininity, youth, innocence.

Worm - ugly, parasitical, just friggin' negative connotation.

The Rose represents an innocent female. The Worm, the male counter-part, is the unwanted lover. The lines:

'has found out thy bed/ of crimson joy'

is most possibly refering to a rape. 'Has found out' being that it was not a willing participant in the act and 'crimson joy' is the reference to blood spilled, the lost virginity.

'howling storm' - could that be the struggle?

"Dark secret love/does thy life destroy" - is this supposed to mean that this act that is occuring is done slowly and in the most torturous way for this innocent?

The Rose being sick, is it maybe, morning sickness? And her life/reputation is destroyed due to this act? (This being FROM an era where a sight of an ankle is totally carnal)

Okay... here are my thoughts. Care to comment on them?
Added by: Kim
On the priest subject... the worm could have possible symbolism of a priest but not in this case. The flower is a delicate figure; blooming and to precious to pluck but to be only looked upon. Its delicacy (virginity) was devoured by this degrading creature (worm), hunger and lusting for sinful acts. This is certainly unobtainable for this disgusting creature that devour and live upon the soil of the earth, leaving no choice for it but to do it through force.
The Sick Rose
Added by: Soundsnatcher
Dear friends:

I think the key to this poem is to be both more literal and more symbolic: The rose could be - a rose! (is a rose is a rose) or anything else that lives, feminine or not.

There is more to this "invisible worm" than meets the eye, however: He "flies in the night" (quite an accomplishment for a worm!) "in the howling storm." Well, he is not a worm, I think; He is the natural workings of death. You can see his labors in any flowerbed after the first autumn frost.

His "dark secret love" is Thanatos, the opposite of the progenerative aspect of love, which is Eros. Everything desires its own conclusion and is inexorably moving toward it: It is natural for a lover to desire release, but NOT YET!

I think Blake knew that the "opposing" forces - the rose (femininity, creation) and the worm (masculinity, destruction) - resemble their respective genitalia. Thus he introduced an erotic symbolism to his poem, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes it isn't.

All interpretations are valid, but be careful where they take you. Witness Charles Manson's interpretation of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter", for instance.

Blake and Goethe
Added by: Thomas
I always thought of "The Sick Rose" as being a description of the loss of virginity but I always had problems to understand the notion of "howling storm". The overwhelming experience of an orgasm? Now I am convinced that it means "rape" which reminds me strongly of Geothes "Sah ein Knab ein Röslein stehn". Maybe it stands as well as a symbol for a man's bad conscience since sex is not just about love and tenderness but also about penetration which is a violent physical act that can be painful (and lustful) for women. Sex is also about pregnancy and birth which also is associated with sickness and pain (and joy, of course).
Added by: Ma. Theresa T. Gambala
In the poem, the sick rose means the weakness of the woman or the woman itself. Because the characteristics of a woman are being tender and weak. While the worm means the sensuality and earthy of some men. In this poem, I discovered that there was a rape or forced ingagement to sexual intercourse because the worm(man) used his superiority to the rose(woman). And because of the rose's innocence about such thing, she lost her virginity.
Added by: Niki
Thank you, Sienna. This poem is obviously about rape. A priest? I don't think so. A disease? Yes, a diseased life resulting FROM the pain, brutality and evilness of rape.

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