The Sick Rose

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade July 2001

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The sick rose by William Blake The sick rose written by William Blake is a poem about love, but what is love? Love can be thought of as an act of faith springing from pour deep seeded desire to join with another human being not only in physical nakedness but in emotional nakedness as well. A rose represents beauty, passion, joy, happiness, mystery, fulfillment, ecstasy, which are essentially what is called love. So if a rose could represent such a wonderful array of feeling, why is this rose sick? What is wrong with this rose? There is almost a feeling of shame in being a rose.

The Rose signifies the human soul, blessed by the gift of salvation, yet vexed nonetheless by sin, "the invisible worm". In the poem the sick rose, William Blake wanted to represent how a rose, which is love and is associated with feelings of wonderment, can at the same time be sick, twisted and vengeful.

A rose when it is healthy and has just blossomed and just picked, has an intoxicating aroma that brings the senses to an altered state of sensitivity. Given what seem now a standard reading of the rose as the flower of Love and the worm as flesh, and the idea of spiritual love being corrupted by fleshly (sexual) love, the worm represents masculine sexuality and the rose represents feminine sexuality. The worm serves to existentialize the Rose, to lend substance to her salvation and refute the notion of predestination. Blake perhaps believes in an innocent, pure-minded love, and the worm represents the lust/love of experience that comes in the night to destroy the innocent love, the night and the howling storm of the poem being the terrible night of experience. The poem does not merely reveal love corrupted by the...