Speaker and Setting


The poem “The Sick Rose” by William Blake has an unnamed speaker who is not actively involved in the rose’s story and who functions only as an observer. There are no personal pronouns that might give away the gender or identity of the speaker, which might be a deliberate choice that allows readers to focus on the rose’s story. 

The speaker’s voice seems to be all-knowing, as it is the speaker who tells the rose the news about its sickness: “O Rose thou art sick.” (l. 1). The speaker addresses the rose as if the rose could understand the speaker’s words, but without expecting a reply. Moreover, the speaker does not play an active part in what happens to the rose. Although the poem creates a feeling of tension and dread, the speaker only witnesse...

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