By Jeremy Tambling (auth.)

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Night and day, day and night are integral to ‘The Angel’ and ‘My Pretty Rose-Tree’. Perhaps they are implied in ‘The Clod & the Pebble’. Day and night appears in the two ‘Nurse’s Songs’ and in ‘A Little Girl Lost’ where ‘the curtains of the night’ – perhaps seen in the illustration to ‘Infant Sorrow’ (Songs of Experience) – contrast with ‘rising day’. In Songs of Experience, night is the deeper, only state possible for ‘A Poison Tree’ or ‘The Sick Rose’. It is the moment anticipated in ‘My pretty Rose Tree’, locking together sexual strife, jealousy, possession, and acceptance of suffering, all confirming the ego.

In that sense the poem notes the lack of night, without which its imprisonment is more felt; indeed the poem may be satirical about the day. If it moves between the sunflower and the youth and the virgin, none of them quite at the centre, one more point of reference is implied: the poem has a speaker, apparent in the possessive ‘my’, and that possessiveness is another form of ‘rooting’ the sunflower. The words ‘Ah! Sun-flower’ are the slightly sentimental tones of a subject who appropriates the ‘flower’ and suggests another reason why the flower cannot move away from the point where it/she is fixed.

Eternity’s sun rise. (E. 470, K. 179) ‘Silent Silent Night’ compares with the draft of ‘My Pretty Rose-Tree’ (E. 25, K. 215, draft K. 161): ‘In the Silent of the Night’ 31 A flower was offerd 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. ] To tend her by day and by night. ] turnd away with jealousy: And her thorns were my only delight. The flower offered (on a page with three flower poems) seems not just another woman because she is outside comparison, but something else, as exceptional, perhaps, as the tyger is.

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