Tuesday, August 19, 2008


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 & morning with my tears;
And I sunnéd it in 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 veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.

William Blake, 1794

I am a grudge-holder. It is not an attractive quality, this I know. In my defense, I am extremely slow to anger, and cheerfully can bear numerous slights, insults and outright injustices while turning the other cheek and walking a mile in the other person's shoes. But I have my line, and when it it crossed, it is like crossing the Rubicon; there's no going back. The particularly unattractive part of it is that my foe may not know the Rubicon has been crossed. Because my reaction of a real, unmendable breach of friendship is simply silence. Transitory arguments that can be resolved are met with either outbursts of anger or carefully worded confrontations. The anger flares up and burns out or is carefully extinguished. But the unforgivable, the permanent breach is looked upon wordlessly and then walked away from, never to return, never to forget, never to forgive. Knowing this, I am careful, extremely careful, to be sure the offense is indeed unforgivable. Because it is a terrible thing to knowingly and deliberately poison a friendship to death.


morpho aurora said...

then only time i'm quiet is when i am truly furious. and if someone makes me so mad i shut up, i hold a grudge too. i think if someone has caused me enough pain to leave me speechless then i want nothing more to do with them, ever.

Goldie said...

Thank you, beautiful poem. My grudges sadly have lives of their own. When I intend to hold one, it disappears as soon as the person starts trying to reconcile. Other times, I honestly try to forget and forgive and it is just not working. I guess you're right, there is a line; and once that line is crossed, the relationship is broken and cannot be fully mended even if you try. Here from PAN; like your site; will be back!

Anonymous said...

I hold a grudge against you for thinking you deserve your own blog. Ennui is too gentle a word for someone as banal as you.

anglophile said...

Thanks for visiting, anonymous. I'd like to return the favor, but perhaps you do not have a blog? Use of ennui and banal in a sentence makes me think that you deserve your own blog.