My Pretty Rose-Tree - Synopsis and commentary

Synopsis of My Pretty Rose-Tree

My Pretty Rose-tree

The speaker was offered a beautiful flower but refused it in favour of a pretty rose-tree. This rose-tree received all the speaker's attention but rejected it jealousy, leaving the speaker with nothing but its thorns to enjoy.

This poem returns to a delicate image (after the fierce imagery of The Tyger) exploring the experience of love in a ‘fallen' world.


This can be seen as Blake's espousal of free love. The flower offered to the speaker could be an image of someone's virginity or sexual favours which the speaker foolishly eschews because the rose tree (married partner?) already belongs to him and demands his attention. However, the speaker loses out since the ‘wife' withholds her own sexual favours in spite.

The reaction of the rose-tree represents love as it is experienced after the fall into divided selfhood, the love experienced by the pebble in The Clod and the Pebble. This is love that is jealous and possessive, wishing to bind the loved one to oneself. This makes love cruel as it desires to control and know its power. These are the rose's thorns and they are particularly the way in which sexual gratification is denied or made into a shame and guilt-laden experience.

Investigating My Pretty Rose Tree

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