A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said "I've a pretty rose tree,"
And I passed the sweet flower o'er.
Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.
“My Pretty Rose Tree” was written by William Blake and is a part of his Songs of Experience collection from 1794.
By the look of it, Blake’s poem seems to follow an iambic tetra metric pattern, meaning that one unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable and there are three feet on each line; if you take a look at the first line in the first stanza, you can see that, e.g., the “flow” in flower is stressed and so is the “off” in offered. A similar pattern is followed throughout the poem.
In this poem the rhymes are masculine; e.g. me, tree and bore, o’er. Besides that, the rhymes follow the ABAB ACAC pattern.
There are two stanzas, and four lines in each, in this poem. It has no significant visual presentation, other than the four-line pattern.
The flower and the rose tree in the poem, symbolize women. The poem is about a man, who is “offered” a woman, but he rejects her because he is already with somebody he loves more than anything; this is what the 1st stanza tells us. In the 2nd stanza, the man tells his woman about the incident, but she apparently becomes jealous and leaves him. This isn’t what we would expect after the 1st stanza, where he chooses her, rather than the other woman. The poem goes from a seemingly happy- ending poem to a tragic one about lost love.
There is a lot of symbolism and personification in the poem. The flowers are given human abilities, e.g. “but my rose turned away with jealousy”, and they are also major symbolical elements. A flower, or rose, is a beautiful thing, but the thorns are sharp and painful. If you are not careful you will be hurt. That’s exactly what happened to the man in the poem: he was stung by the thorn by telling his loved one about the encounter with another woman (“And her thorns were my only delight”).
This poem does, indeed, tell a story and is therefore a narrative poem. The protagonist, if he can be called so, is a man who is in love; the peripheral characters are two women, or flowers for that sake. The story is about the man’s choice between the two women and the outcome of that choice. There is more than one theme in this work of art. One of them is mentioned in the 3rd line of the 2nd stanza: jealousy; the man in the poem is left by the love of his life, because the lady fell into the ocean of jealousy. Another theme is grief or despair. A third theme is love, or lost love, which isn’t that hard to guess.