William Blake – 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.


21 Responses to William Blake – The Sick Rose

  1. What is a sick rose? could it be something beautiful that is ill?


  2. Rich Corke says:

    What did Blake mean by “worm”? Is it an antiquated term for a parasite or bacteria?

  3. Sammi Ha says:

    The rose might b representation of a woman or her ***, and is sick because she is pregnant frm that ‘worm’ who found out her ‘crimson joy, i.e sex. I think it’s based on double meaning.

  4. […] William Blake – The Sick Rose […]

  5. Stephanie says:

    “thy bed / of crimson joy” puzzles me. How is the word “bed” functioning here? Is it a synonym for “seat,” “origin,” “bottom,” “location”?

  6. Ash Bosserma says:

    I think this poem actually represents the loss of innocence that experience causes. The “Rose” could be a woman caught in a sexual situation (Note stanza 2 entirely) and she has fallen ill (her illness may be any sexual side effect: guilt, jealousy, she may have been raped) it’s all about interpretation, and it could therefore mean anything you’d like it to. This is just my idea.

  7. I think your on the right track ash.

  8. Is there an element of jealousy here? The worm being the speaker’s rival for a woman’s (the rose) love? Obviously the worm is a phallic reference as well. So perhaps the speaker is talking about a secret betrayal and observing that the new lover is actually her destroyer.

  9. barry says:

    I think Ash’s translation of the poem’s meanings hold’s true.
    I totally disagree with the ‘worm’ being described as phalic.

  10. Mal Rose says:

    I think it means that someone that was once beautiful is going through something which explain the sick part. And she is happy, living. But what she thinks is her happy ending is actually her death, or despare. This is just what I think. I mean im just 14 but thats what it meant to me.

  11. Mal Rose says:

    And maybe her life was so happy, that something was just waiting in the air. Something evil. That when she was at her happiest, it had to strike. Im reading the book Secret Life of Bee’s. And the poem is in there. If you want to understand the poem read the book. 🙂

  12. Mal Rose says:

    oh and by the way, this poem has nothing to do with sex, whatsoever. Its so obvious, I mean someone doesn’t write a poem about sex, no. There has to be a more special meaning. For example, living. And what life really is. This is talking about someone who has died emotionally because of the bad thing that happened to her in her life. And phisically as well.

  13. apollinaire says:

    note that this isa romantic poem;so blake is refering to the nature i mean the rose which soon dies out because of the effects of the sun to satarise what was happening in his society there is nothing about sex there.rose here,stands for breivetity of life although it’s nice to live he is regretting.thx

  14. ocksblog says:

    to deny that there is anything reproductive or sexual in this poem seems very naiive to me!

    ‘bed of crimson joy’
    ‘dark secret love’

    You don’t use images like this without being aware of the possible connotations.
    But of course, poetry often has multiple meanings and nods in many directions, so it doesn’t have to be based on sex, but I think it refers to it.
    The word that sums it up for me is corruption. And sex and jealous love (also STIs of course) can corrupt.

    I love William Blake!

  15. michael smith says:

    The rose is a rose. the poem is about beauty and its frailty. All things that were once young and beautiful and blooming are subject to the invisible worm ( decay and death). In fact, it is the transitory nature of beauty that makes it all the more beautiful.

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