The Sick Rose

This study guide will help you analyze the poem “The Sick Rose” by William Blake. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the poem

Title: “The Sick Rose” (1794)
Author: William Blake
William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet and painter who has contributed to the Romantic movement. The poem “The Sick Rose” was published in the collection Songs of Experience.


The poem “The Sick Rose” by William Blake begins with the speaker addressing the rose directly and telling it that it is sick. The speaker tells the rose that a dangerous worm has found the rose’s bed and that the worm’s love is destroying the rose.


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

The poem “The Sick Rose” by William Blake contains an apostrophe, which is present in the first verse: “O Rose thou art sick.” (l. 1). Here, the speaker addresses a non-human entity, the rose. The apostrophe suggests that the speaker does not necessarily expect a reply. At the same time, it implies that the speaker expects the rose hears the address. 

Metaphors and symbols 

The rose might be a metaphor for nature in general. When the speaker describes the unstoppable process of the rose’s decay, this might be a metaphor for the natural cycles that occur in nature and that cannot be stopped through human intervention. 

The rose might also be a symbol of the feminine, while the worm might be a symbol of the masculine. Seen from this perspective, the poem might describe physical and sexual love between a man and a woman. Therefore, the rose might symbolize the fragility of women, while the worm might symbolize the power of men. The “bed” (l. 5) mentioned in the poem could also be a metaphor for a lovers’ bed. 

Moreover, the poem might be a metaphor for losing one’s virginity. In this light, the rose might become a symbol of female purity, while the worm can be seen as a phallic symbol. This interpretation of the poem is confirmed by the image of the “bed of crimson joy” (ll. 5-6), which could be a metaphor for blood and, implicitly, for the loss of a woman’s virginity. Therefore, the death of the rose – “Does thy life destroy” (l. 8) – could be a metaphor for a woman giving up her life together with her purity.

Texten ovan är bara ett utkast. Endast medlemmar kan se hela innehållet.

Få tillgång till hela webboken.

Som medlem av kan du få tillgång till hela innehållet.

Köp ett medlemskap nu

Redan medlem? Logga in

The Sick Rose

Inga användarrecensioner än.