Saturday, June 24

The Sick Rose

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.

It's a William Blake poem. Except for 'The Tiger,' which is rather cliche considering how well-known and widely popular that one is, I'm not much of a fan. His themes seem overly simplistic to me. Anyway, in Literature II, our professor had us break into groups and come up with our own analyses of this poem's symbolism. For whatever reason, perhaps I had been reading too much Metaphilm or was infuriated with the poem's vagueness or was just irritated at the world, I decided it was all a huge metaphor for communism, despite the poem being published about two decades before Marx was even born, much less a communist state was succesfully established. My explanation for that mild problem: Blake claimed that a number of his ideas came from an angel or his dead brother, and they must have clued him into this upcoming event.

Anyway, the rose is communism, and the worm is the lure of individual possession and capitalism. Why is the rose communism? Mostly because the picture that accompanies the poem is of a red rose and a reference is made to the rose's 'crimson joy,' colors closely associated with the major communist revolutions and states. That's not so clever, but my whole interpretation of the worm is pretty cool, I think. "That flies in the night,/ In the howling storm" are the American radio and television stations that silently move on electromagnetic waves and present images of happy capitalists. That dark secret love? It's the love of individual ownership that destroys a society built on communal ownership and means of production.


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