My Pretty Rose-Tree - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The indeterminate but rare and beautiful nature of the flower ‘as May never bore' seems to contrast with the mundane ‘prettiness' of the rose-tree. This serves to highlight both the speaker's loss and the overblown self-esteem of his beloved.

The language of the first stanza could be seen as a little hackneyed. ‘Such a flower as May never bore' and ‘passed the sweet flower o'er', both read like typical lines from contemporary popular verse. ‘Pretty', too, is rather a well-worn adjective. This suggests that the speaker is conventional and mundane in his thinking and lifestyle, lacking the awareness to respond to life's chances.

Investigating language and tone

  • What effect would identification of the flower produce?
  • What difference might a more unusual adjective than ‘pretty' have for the rose-tree?

Structure and versification

The poem has an ABAB ACAC rhyme scheme and uses anapaestic metre, giving a jaunty rhythm. This is disturbed in the penultimate line with an early stress on the first syllable of ‘jealousy' and an extended line length, both of which emphasise the strength of the negative emotion.

Investigating structure and versification

  • What effect does Blake produce by giving this poem a jaunty rhythm?
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