Year 10

Understanding the poem 'A Poison Tree'

I can explain how Blake presents internal conflict in this poem.

Year 10

Understanding the poem 'A Poison Tree'

I can explain how Blake presents internal conflict in this poem.

Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. Taken from Blake's 'Songs of Experience', the poem helps children understand the negative world they live in.
  2. 'A Poison Tree' explores the internal conflict of the speaker.
  3. The poem arguably explores the dangers of repressing emotions, such as anger.
  4. Blake uses natural imagery, a staple of the Romantic Era.

Common misconception

Blake was a Romantic poet and artist and thus was critical of many societal beliefs and attitudes, namely religion which was called into question in the Enlightenment period just prior to this.

The Romantics did acknowledge and agree with many Enlightenment ideas but, by and large, they were religious in their writing. Blake was a deeply religious man and his critique of religion was focused mainly on how it was interpreted by society.


  • Wrath - intense anger or rage directed towards someone or something

  • Foe - an enemy or opponent; someone or something opposed or hostile to another

  • Extended metaphor - a comparison between two things emphasising their shared qualities, developed throughout a work

  • Romantic - linked to a historical cultural movement emphasising emotion, individualism and nature

  • Critique - detailed analysis or evaluation, often highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and implications

You may want to display some of Blake's artworks (one is included in this lesson) and explore how he uses Romantic ideas in his paintings.
Teacher tip


Edexcel Poetry Anthology or a copy of 'A Poison Tree' by William Blake.

Content guidance

  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).


6 Questions

What's the best definition of conflict?
a war or physical fight
Correct answer: a serious disagreement or argument
a time free from disturbance
A direct comparison of two things using the verb 'to be' is known as a .
Correct Answer: metaphor
Before reading a poem for the first time you can analyse its to help you predict what it's about.
Correct Answer: title
Identify the sentence which uses the first person pronoun.
Correct answer: I went to the market.
You went to the market.
He went to the market.
Visually descriptive or figurative language used to create pictures in the mind of the reader is known as ...
Correct answer: imagery
What emotion does wrath describe?
Correct answer: anger

6 Questions

Match the keywords with their definitions.
Correct Answer:wrath ,intense anger or rage

intense anger or rage

Correct Answer:foe,an enemy or opponent

an enemy or opponent

Correct Answer:extended metaphor, a comparison between two things developed throughout a work

a comparison between two things developed throughout a work

Correct Answer:critique ,detailed analysis or evaluation

detailed analysis or evaluation

The movement which placed emphasis on emotion, individualism and nature was known as the movement.
Correct Answer: romantic
What is Blake's main message in 'A Poison Tree'?
showing your anger can be dangerous
Correct answer: repressing your anger can be dangerous
showing any emotion at all can be dangerous
Starting with the first, put the events described in Blake's 'A Poison Tree' in chronological order.
1 - The speaker represses his feelings of anger.
2 - The speaker's anger is watered and sunned .
3 - The speaker's anger grows into a tree.
4 - The speaker's tree "bore an apple".
5 - The speaker's foe steals into their garden.
6 - The speaker's foe is poisoned under the tree.
A Poison Tree' explores the conflict of the speaker.
Correct Answer: internal, inner
What method does Blake use throughout 'A Poison Tree' which is typical of his Romantic style?
semantic fields
extend simile
Correct answer: natural imagery