The Sick Rose by William Blake (1794)

by on Mar 24, 2016

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.

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This poem was sent to me by a special someone just as we were starting university. It was a cryptic way of delivering the news that he had just been diagnosed with leukaemia, before the days of bone marrow transplants. Poetry by Blake and his contemporaries spoke volumes for this young man who joked about the changes in his life. He lived for a couple of years, dealing with the cancer instead of the traditional fun and challenges of college days. He died in the summer of graduation. A few years later, I wrote a poem dedicated to him, entitled “Red and White.” Blake has remained a favourite poet, since that time.

—Patricia McGoldrick

 


Patricia McGoldrick is a Kitchener, ON, Canada poet-writer, inspired by the everyday. Patricia is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the League of Canadian Poets. Poems found in anthologies & posted online. Check out words at PM27’s blog. New year, new blog forthcoming at patriciamcgoldrick.com.

8 thoughts on “The Sick Rose by William Blake (1794)

  1. Tony Press says:

    A poem — once again — is so much more than the words on the page. Yes, thank you for sharing your connection with this one.

  2. Andrea Wyatt says:

    Benjamin Britten set this haunting poem to music in his 1943 song cycle “Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings”.
    I’m so glad you reminded me of it. Thank you.

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