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The Sick Rose Summary & Analysis
by William Blake

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"The Sick Rose" was written by the British poet William Blake. First published in Songs of Innocence and Experience in 1794, it is one Blake's best-known poems, while also remaining one of his most enigmatic. In eight short lines, the speaker addresses the "Rose" of the title, telling it that an "invisible worm" has made it sick. This crafty worm has flown through a stormy night to satisfy its "dark secret love" in the rose's "bed"—an action that will "destroy" the rose's life. The poem is filled with symbolism, but there are a wide range of theories about what, exactly, the worm and rose represent. Generally speaking, the worm is a corrupting figure, preying on the innocent life-force of the beautiful rose. Both worm and rose are personified, and the poem is heavy with sexual suggestion—leading many critics to theorize that the poem depicts the oppression of sexuality and desire by the Christian authorities of the day.

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