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Thread: The Sick Rose by Big Willy Blake

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    Default The Sick Rose by Big Willy Blake

    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.

    ___

    What do we make of this, then?

    Fingers on buzzers please

    Last edited by Corpsey; 16-05-2019 at 01:51 PM.

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    Why a worm?

    Penile obvs but also related to the apple, maybe? The apple of sin, of knowledge, of experience.

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    This was a big favourite of my dads. He would recite it sometimes if he'd had a drink. Very intense man. Scared people. Learned a lot from him.

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    Blake doesn't think of sexuality as a source of sin but of delight. The vale of Beulah. I don't think,actually, that a definitive meaning can be gleaned from this poem. It's inherently mysterious but dark and secret I consider to be the operative words. Secrecy. Repression. Hypocrisy. Jealousy. These tend to be the sources of sin in Blake.

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    Oh wow so the worm could be the intrusion of judgement into the soft crimson world of sexuality?

    I've never thought of it that way around. Assumed the conventional Christian narrative of sex and sin.

    I heard a Devil curse
    Over the heath & the furze
    Mercy could be no more
    If there was nobody poor

    And pity no more could be
    If all were as happy as we
    At his curse the sun went down
    And the heavens gave a frown

    Down pourd the heavy rain
    Over the new reapd grain
    And Miseries increase
    Is Mercy Pity Peace

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    That's how I understand it yes

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    There's the whole thing of worms eating the dead, living in and eating the earth too. It could be something to do with time and decay.

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    Things unspoken, hidden, that's what eats away and destroys you. It's like in teh Poison Tree - when he speaks his 'Wrath' and his 'wrath doth end' but when he 'tells it not, my wrath doth grow'

    It's also a woman's name which adds another layer...

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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    I don't think,actually, that a definitive meaning can be gleaned from this poem.
    And thank Los for that!

    A poem about mystery that is unsolvable.

    Things unspoken, hidden, that's what eats away and destroys you. It's like in teh Poison Tree - when he speaks his 'Wrath' and his 'wrath doth end' but when he 'tells it not, my wrath doth grow'
    Yeah - energy is eternal delight, reason (Urizen) sets limits. “Sooner murder an infant in it`s cradle than nurse unacted desires.”

    In the introduction to my SOI&SOE the author suggests that the worm might be expected to transform into a butterfly. So he sees at as a caterpillar. But then, it's an "invisible" worm, that "flies".

    The flying invisible worm is the most uncanny image, isn't it? It doesn't feel arbitrary or nonsensical, but it also doesn't seem explicable.

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    Default start blaked

    One story told by Blake's friend Thomas Butts shows how much the Blakes enjoyed the pastoral surroundings of Lambeth. At the end of Blake's garden was a small summer house, and coming to call on the Blakes one day Butts was shocked to find the couple stark naked: "Come in!" cried Blake; "it's only Adam and Eve you know!" The Blakes were reciting passages from Paradise Lost, apparently "in character."

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    Does this poem evoke an emotion in you? Or is it just interesting?

    My revelation last night was stimulated by the Audible book I was listening to of Blake, read very dramatically and emotively, like a sermon, not a crossword puzzle.

    I have a tendency to view poems as crossword puzzles.

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    I'd always assumed it was about STDs, which were shockingly common back in the not-so-good old days.

    Interestingly, the worst of these at the time - syphilis, obviously - actually is caused by an 'invisible worm'. Or at least, Treponema pallidum, the bacterium responsible, is kind of worm-shaped:

    Treponema_pallidum.jpg

    Although this wasn't known until a century after Blake's time.
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

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    There is an obsession in romanticism with sickliness, isn't there? Keats worked at Guy's Hospital, of course.

    Palsied/sickly etc.

    There's a lot of the use of the word 'sweet' in Blake and the other Romantics, which is sickly for us, but also does have connotations of sickliness (the sweet smell of death).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    Does this poem evoke an emotion in you?
    So I'd say that this poem doesn't evoke an emotion in me, so perhaps I can never understand it.

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    So the rose is symbolic of innocence and purity - of the virgin mary

    This is the innocence upon which the invisible worm, air-borne plague, descends

    With its dark, repressive, insidious, cloaked love

    Perhaps the repression of experience itself - or as a frightened response to experience

    I went to the Garden of Love,
    And saw what I never had seen:
    A Chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

    And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
    And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
    So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
    That so many sweet flowers bore.

    And I saw it was filled with graves,
    And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
    And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

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