The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble Sheep a threatening horn;
White the lily white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor threats stain her beauty bright.
Line by line explanation of “The Lily by William Blake”
The modest Rose puts forth a thorn
The thorns that grow in a rose tree symbolize the resistance it puts forth. Rose is soft and meek flower that abstains from love (via her thorns).Here the poet wants to convey that a women who is too modest will always resist if love is offered to her by someone.
The humble Sheep a threatening horn
The sheep’s horn is a symbol of resistance and defence that it needs for protection.
White the lily white shall in love delight
The white lily is neither too humble nor too arrogant. Yes she accepts the ecstasy of love.
Nor a thorn nor threats stain her beauty bright
Unlike the ship and the rose, the lily puts no resistance on a way to love making. Thus her beauty suffers no stain. The lily, thus, becomes a symbol of candid expression of joy and love.
Critical appreciation of “The Lily”
Love often accompanies danger and treachery where we least express. Much like a lovely rose plant which is covered with thorns and a sheep with a threatening horn; both of them threaten their well-wishers or lovers who dream of owning them.”The lily” on the contrary is the embodiment of true and pure love. The poet emphasize on the fact that purity does not involve rejection or refusal to the warmth of love.
Theme of the poem “The lily by William Blake”
Rose is a beautiful flowers appealing, with enchanting fragrance. However the thorns are considered as a drawback, it acts as a symbol of resistance against all pervading emotion of love.
On the contrary Lily with a pure heart and being devoid of thorns is considered superior by the poet. The poet praises lily owing to a free and frank acceptance of love which makes her more beautiful and joy forever. Lily is pure because purity originates from its ability to readily accept love.