Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Sick Rose || William Blake

There are very few poems I can recite by heart, but Blake's The Sick Rose is one that I can. The Songs of Innocence and Experience have always been some of my favourite poems - I think I prefer the Songs of Experience, but don't tell Innocence - and The Sick Rose stands out in its brevity, apparent simplicity, and all round blatant innuendo (the invisible worm?! Come on!).

I've always loved Blake's deceptive simplicity and this poem is a shining example. It can be read and interpreted in so many different ways and many of the key symbols - the rose, the worm - can be understood in various ways, both literally and metaphorically. I have a fondness for poems which will inevitably mean different things to different people and this is certainly one of those.

Reciting poetry in anxiety-inducing situations is one of my coping mechanisms and this one is particularly good for relieving stress and anxiety. In part because it makes my immature self giggle uncontrollably! I had a hip MRI this year and I am supremely claustrophobic, but I repeated The Sick Rose over and over for the time it took and managed to survive. It was only after that I realised the MRI technicians could hear everything going on in the room - oops.

Can you recite any poems from memory?


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