Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
William Blake

I've never been accused of being an actual Blake fan.  That's not to say he's not a genius - I could easily be a complete literary, and poetic dullard.  I think it's just a matter of taste, and for whatever reason he's just not serving it piping hot in my kind of cup.  However the man's got a point (several, in fact) and I'm not too proud to have a pretty healthy appreciation for it.  I have a very mediocre knowledge of the guy, and even less about what others have to say about the man or his work, but upon revisiting some of his pieces I'm finding a little spark of renewed interest, and picking up on what I believe is dry wit, a clear disdain for hypocrisy, and phony behavior alike, and a keen eye for irony.  I can't not like him for any of these things, surely!

And I started thinking.

Through a superficial reading you might be thinking hey, hey he won!  Speaker 1- Enemy 0 ... victory!  Or, that's what you get for creepin' around my garden stealin' apples!  To me, however, it is plainly a cautionary tale.  What is it that you are nurturing?  What aspects of yourself do you cultivate?  Are you wrapped up in getting even by any means necessary?  If so, what exactly is even?  Isn't even typically a few steps beyond fair to begin with, and if that's true when does enough become enough?  How much must we hurt each other to feel satisfied?  Why does hurting another person satisfy you?  And if we're supposed to love our enemies, why exactly are ya tryin' to kill him?  With each question came another, and another after that one, and yet more were to come as I lay reading the words thinking of myself, family, the world, neighborhood, community, lovers, pets, everything and one ... and this went on for quite a while.  It was then I could admit, this writer's not such a hack after all. 

In the midst of this tornado I had a fleeting thought of my mother.  When I was growing up, and even now she is not unlikely to say (yes say, not ask) "What is it that you're bringing to the table?"  What makes you special?  In a world where half the population is made up of the same things that make you, what is it that sets you apart?  Not exactly pertinent at first, and a bit out of context, but I just kept thinking of the bringing and table part, and envisioned this grand feast, and sprawling table of guests full of anticipation, and a fine silver tray brought forth with large, beautiful apples shining like rubies ... and the vision stopped at that point and the words came to me, if your guests are dining on poisoned fruit from your garden, is it any wonder why they stop coming round for dinner? 

And there you sit, alone, with your tainted bounty. 

I just might end up a fan yet.