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Poem A Poison Tree :

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 and 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
MEANING BY STANZA

Stanza 1 opens with how the persona was angry with his friend. He told his friend about his anger
and the anger then disappeared. The persona then goes on to describe a scenario when he was
angry with his enemy. He did not tell his enemy that he was angry, thus, his anger kept on growing!

In stanza 2, the persona talks more on how his anger grows. He compares his growing anger to a
growing plant where he waters the plant with his fears and his tears. However, he did not give it real
sunshine. He merely gives smiles and deceitful wiles. A wile is a cunning trick. Here, it suggests that
he may be planning some sort of a devious scheme for his enemy- and this deceitful scheme is just
like the sunshine for the growing plant.

Stanza 3 describes how the persona’s efforts eventually bore fruit. The fruit is the apple bright. The
enemy clearly recognises that the fruit belongs to the persona.

Stanza 4 reveals that the enemy had seen the apple and stole it. The enemy had stolen the apple
during the night when it was dark as the “pole” – the North Star was all covered up. Thus, the star
was not visible-to guide the enemy out of the danger. The enemy eats the apple and most probably
– he dies.

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THEMES

Managing Anger

It is not totally wrong to be angry. However, it is rather important for us to know how to deal with
anger. If we nurture our anger, it might grow and be harmful to us. In this poem, two ways of handling
anger were shown with different outcomes. In the first scenario, the anger disappeared but in the
second the anger grew into something aggressive and negative.
Importance of Communication

As shown in the poem, if the persona had communicated with his enemy, his anger would have
been controlled. However, his refusal to communicate has allowed anger to become something that
is very destructive. Therefore it is often better if we can communicate with people on the issues that
is bugging us. The poet indirectly is trying to persuade his readers to talk about their anger. We can
talk about it not only with our friends but with our enemies too. If we talk, the anger might just reduce
and it might just ease our troubles. In turn, it will prevent us from causing hurt unto others.

Moral Values

1. The importance of communicating when there is a misunderstanding- When there is a


misunderstanding, we should talk about it to resolve our differences.

2. Harbouring ill feelings against someone- We shouldn't harbour ill feelings against anyone.

3. Forgiving and forgetting- When there is a misunderstanding, we must forgive and forget.

4. Bottling up ill feelings- Bottling up ill feelings is bad for us and those around us. Keep you
emotion in check.

Sample of HOTS Questions

1. What does the persona do with his/her anger of the enemy?

2. “I told it not, my wrath did grow.”

Unstable emotion should never be kept inside. How can you release it? Provide a reason for your answer.

Method:

Reason: .

3. What would you do if you had a misunderstanding with your foe?

4. Why do you think the persona did not tell his foe about his wrath?

5. What two things can you learn from this poem?


6. “Till it bore an apple bright”

Do you think revenge solves problems? Give a reason for your answer.

Opinion: .

Reason: .

7. How does the persona feel about his/her foe lying under the tree in the morning. Give a reason for your answer.

8. ‘I was angry with my friend.’

How would you avoid getting angry with a friend. State a good effect of your action.

Method:

Reason:

9. ‘I was angry with my foe’

State one bad effect of anger and suggest a solution to manage anger.

Effect:

Solution:

10. What is the poem about?

11. What lessons have you learnt from the poem? State two.

a.

b.

12. Why does the foe want the apple?

………………………………………………………………………………………..

1. In stanza 1, what happens to an anger that is not settled?

2. What does the word “deceitful” mean?

3. In stanza 2, which phrase suggests that the persona pretended and used tricks?

4. In stanza 3, which phrase tells you that the persona kept his anger all the time?

5. What does the tree symbolise?


Poem What Has Happened To Lulu?
Stanza One
Line Line Interpretation
no.
1 What has happened to Lulu, mother? The persona (the child) is asking his/her mother about
his/her older sister, Lulu.
2 What has happened to Lu? The question is repeated but using the name “Lu”
(showing that the child and Lulu are very close)
3 There's nothing in her bed but an old Lulu is not in her bed. Only her rag-doll is there
rag-doll
4 And by its side a shoe. There is a shoe (Lulu’s) by the side of the bed.
Stanza Two
Line Line Interpretation
no.
1 Why is her window wide, mother, The persona is asking his/her mother about Lulu’s
bedroom window that is wide open
2 The curtain flapping free, The curtain is moving because of the wind from the
open window
3 And only a circle on the dusty shelf Lulu’s money-box is also missing (sign of a circle where
4 Where her money-box used to be? the money-box was)
Stanza Three
Line Line Interpretation
no.
1 Why do you turn your head, mother, The persona is asking his/her mother why she turns her
head away from him/her
2 And why do tear-drops fall? He/She asks why mother is crying
3 And why do you crumple that note on Why does his/her mother crumple the note she is
the fire reading and throw it into the fire (in the fire place)
4 And say it is nothing at all? The mother simply says that there is nothing to worry
about.
Stanza Four
Line Line Interpretation
no.
1 I woke to voices late last night, The persona tells his/her mother that he/she woke up
from his/her sleep because he/she heard some people
talking
2 I heard an engine roar. He/She also heard the sound of a vehicle at that time
3 Why do you tell me the things I heard The persona is asking his/her mother why she says
4 Were a dream and nothing more? what he/she heard were only in his/her dream
Stanza Five
Line Line Interpretation
no.
1 I heard somebody cry, mother, The persona tells his/her mother that he/she also heard
2 In anger or in pain, someone cry in anger or in pain
3 But now I ask you why, mother, But when he/she asks his/her mother, she says it is just
the sound of the rain.
4 You say it was a gust of rain.
Stanza Six
Line Line Interpretation
no.
1 Why do you wander about as though The persona is asking his/her mother why she is
2 You don't know what to do? walking or moving aimlessly as if she is nervous,
worried and in panic.
3 What has happened to Lulu, mother? Again, the persona is asking his/her mother about Lulu.
4 What has happened to Lu? The repeated question shows that the child is really
missing his/her sister / is worried about her / in
confusion.
Sample of HOTS Questions
 -Where is the setting of the poem?

 -Who is asking what has happened to Lulu?

 -In stanza 6, how does the persona’s mother feel?

 -Lulu has left the house. Give two reasons why do you think Lulu decided to do so.

 From stanza 4,
“I woke to voices late last night”
Whose voices the persona may have heard that woke him up?

 -What can you infer from the line “I heard an engine roar”?

 -In stanza 5, what does the phrase “gust of rain” being compared to?

 -What is the persona’s mother doing in stanza 6 and why do you think she reacts that way? Give a
reason for your answer.

 -In stanza 1, what can be seen on Lulu’s bed?

 -In stanza 3, why do you think the persona’s mother crumples the note?

-I woke up to voices late last night’


-In your opinion, why do you think teenagers run away? Give two reasons.

 -In stanza 2,
-(i) What does the line “the curtain flapping free” indicates?

-(ii) What did Lulu take with her?

 -In stanza 3, why do you think the mother says “It is nothing at all?”

 -In your opinion, what do you think had happened to Lulu?

 -Who is the persona?

 -Which line in stanza 3, suggest the mother is crying?

 -Why was the mother crying?

 -The number of teenagers running away from home is on the rise. What could be the factors that
contribute to this?
Factor 1: Factor 2:
Sample of HOTS Questions

 -Where is the setting of the poem?


Lulu’s bedroom/ Lulu’s room

 -Who is asking what has happened to Lulu?


Lulu’s sibling/ Lulu’s brother/ Lulu’s sister

 -In stanza 6, how does the persona’s mother feel?


The persona’s mother feels confused/ worried/sad

 -Lulu has left the house. Give two reasons why do you think Lulu decided to do so.
1. She had an argument with her mother.
2. She had a fight with her mother.
3. She wanted to have more freedom.
4. She was being influenced by her friends.
………………………………………………………………………………………

 From stanza 4,
“I woke to voices late last night”
Whose voices the persona may have heard that woke him up?
The persona’s mother and Lulu/ Lulu and her friend / The persona’s mother and friend

 -What can you infer from the line “I heard an engine roar”?
Lulu has gone away in a car / Lulu has run away in a car / Lulu is being driven away in a car

 -In stanza 5, what does the phrase “gust of rain” being compared to?
Someone’s cry / Somebody’s cry

 -What is the persona’s mother doing in stanza 6 and why do you think she reacts that way? Give a
reason for your answer.
Mother cried because she was upset that Lulu had run away.

………………………………………………………………………

 -In stanza 1, what can be seen on Lulu’s bed?


A rag-doll

 -In stanza 3, why do you think the persona’s mother crumples the note?
She was angry with what written in the note/ She did not want to know

what was written in the note

 -I woke up to voices late last night’


The voices belong to Lulu and mother/ Lulu and her friend/ Lulu’s

mother and friend/ Lulu and her kidnapper/ Lulu’s mother and the

kidnapper.

 -In your opinion, why do you think teenagers run away? Give two reasons.
They are influenced by the wrong company of friends
They want to get away from overprotective parents

They want to be free

Peer pressure

Parental neglect

Personal problems

Teen pregnancy

Drug addiction

Abused by parents / siblings

………………………………………………………………………

 -In stanza 2,
-(i) What does the line “the curtain flapping free” indicates?
It was windy and the window is opened

-(ii) What did Lulu take with her?


Her money-box

 -In stanza 3, why do you think the mother says “It is nothing at all?”
the mother does not want the persona to know what was written in that note / the mother does not
want the persona to know that she is worried

 -In your opinion, what do you think had happened to Lulu?


She ran away/ she was kidnapped

……………………………………………………………………………….

 -Who is the persona?


Lulu’s sibling/ Lulu’s brother/ Lulu’s sister

 -Which line in stanza 3, suggest the mother is crying?


And why do the tear-drops fall

 -Why was the mother crying?


She was upset with Lulu’s reaction

 -The number of teenagers running away from home is on the rise. What could be the factors that
contribute to this?
Factor 1: Argument with parents / family problem(s)

Factor 2: Peer influence / Any other acceptable answer

………………………………………………………………………………………
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ANSWER SCHEME FOR HOTs QUESTIONS

1. What does the persona do with his/her anger of the enemy?

The persona just keeps it inside and lets it get worse.

2. “I told it not, my wrath did grow.”

Unstable emotion should never be kept inside. How can you release it? Provide a reason for your answer.

Method: Talk to the people involved

Reason: Talking can resolve the problem.

3. What would you do if you had a misunderstanding with your foe?

I would talk to him/her to find out the root of the matter.

4. Why do you think the persona did not tell his foe about his wrath?

He found it difficult to talk about the matter.

5. What two things can you learn from this poem?

Hatred breeds hatred/We should not suppress our anger./ We should talk about our anger or our feelings./We
should forgive and forget.

6. “Till it bore an apple bright”

Do you think revenge solves problems? Give a reason for your answer.

Opinion: No. It is pointless.

Reason: revenge does not solve any problem, it just makes it worse.

7. How does the persona feel about his/her foe lying under the tree in the morning. Give a reason for your answer.

He felt satisfied/happy because his/her enemy is dead/ something terrible happened to his/her
enemy./ His/her enemy is defeated.

8. ‘I was angry with my friend.’

How would you avoid getting angry with a friend. State a good effect of your action.

Method: I would not listen to rumours so easily.


Reason: Because rumours can be wrong and can bring bad consequences. /Because rumours can destroy
friendship.

9. ‘I was angry with my foe’

State one bad effect of anger and suggest a solution to manage anger.

Effect: Anger can make you lose your judgement.

Solution: Make sure you get the right facts about an issue before you get angry.

10. What is the poem about?

The poem is about the bad effects of holding one’s anger./ It is about anger management.

11. What lessons have you learnt from the poem? State two.

a. Communication is important to avoid misunderstanding.

b. We must also learn to forgive and forget.

12. Why does the foe want the apple?

It belonged to someone else and it was tempting.

………………………………………………………………………………………..

1. In stanza 1, what happens to an anger that is not settled?

It grows. / It becomes bigger than it actually is.

2. What does the word “deceitful” mean?

Lies

3. In stanza 2, which phrase suggests that the persona pretended and used tricks?

“Soft deceitful wiles”

4. In stanza 3, which phrase tells you that the persona kept his anger all the time?

“grew both day and night”

5. What does the tree symbolise?

It symbolises growing anger.