Summary and Analysis of The Sick Rose by William Blake

The advent of true romanticism in English literature occurred and flourished with the publication of ‘Lyrical Ballads’ in 1798 by Wordsworth and Coleridge. A group of poets took birth with immense potential just before that romantic period. William Blake was one of them with real genius. He followed the old sacred tradition of prophets and thinkers with spiritual insight.

The poem The Sick Rose’, included in ‘Songs of Experience’ symbolically presents human life on this earth. When a child takes birth, actually his/her soul freshly comes from the abode of God, so purity is a vital part of childhood days. But with advancement on earth, everyone must have to enter into the world of experience, which is always painful, torturing for the soul. So, days of experience are the days of sinfulness.

The poem ‘The Sick Rose’ tells us how the beauty and soft youth of a rose becomes destroyed by a worm. The speaker addresses the rose and informs it that it is sick. An invisible worm that normally flies under the cover of night and in the midst of extreme storm has entered into the bed of the rose. The bed of the rose is of red warm joy. And the worm’s dark, secret love destroys the life of the rose itself.

The dark secret love of the worm is actually the path of destruction of the innocence and beauty of the rose. While good or virtue is described by ‘bed of crimson joy’, evil is indicated by a number of words like sick, storm, night, howling storm, dark, secret destroy. Here the rose symbolically stands for purity and innocence, and it is destructed by the worm, the agent of the world of experience. So symbolically the presentation is unique.