Poison Tree

Album: Sugaring Season (2012)

Songfacts®:

  • The song is a setting of William Blake's 1794 poem, The Poison Tree. The work was part of Blake's collection, Songs of Experience, in which he considered the nature of evil. The non-conformist mystic was protesting against what he considered to be the puritanical Christianity of his day, which he felt repressed "sinful" emotions in people. Blake's poison tree was a metaphor for his anger, which he'd allowed to be stifled rather than expressed. As a result, his wrath grew until it "bore an apple bright." The poem concludes with the line, "my foe outstretched beneath the tree."
  • Beth Orton suffers from Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition that can cause chronic pain. For many years she tried to ignore the disease, but when she gave birth to her daughter in December 2006, Orton needed to express her discomfort. She told The Independent: "I was in incredible pain for all of my twenties, and some of my thirties. I was in pain every single day. Do you know when I realised? When I had Nancy, I had an emergency Caesarian and somebody came to visit me, and I didn't know how to say I'm in pain. And that is what 'Poison Tree' is all about."

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