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Rose McGowan’s tweet suggests a poetic justice for Weinstein’s poison | Peter Bradshaw


By tweeting Blake’s poem A Poison Tree without comment after her Weinstein allegations, McGowan has helped illuminate its complex meanings

As the Weinstein scandal begins to look like a red pill moment for the film industry – revealing the widespread abuse that was there all along – the most startling intervention came from Rose McGowan, a defiant survivor of Weinstein’s alleged assault. Without comment, she tweeted the text of William Blake’s poem A Poison Tree, a stark, mysterious work whose complex meanings McGowan may actually have done more to reveal than anyone else in modern times. It begins with “I was angry with my friend/ I told my wrath, my wrath did end” and ends with a poison tree being grown, created by and feeding on the dammed-up rage and hurt at a powerful enemy that is not expressed, and watered by the false smiles that the victim has been compelled to put on, and eventually bringing forth an “apple bright”. I once studied that poem at university – but never understood it the way I do now, in McGowan’s fierce retelling: Eve’s revenge against the smug serpent-Adams of this world. From now on, English students reading Blake will also have to study McGowan’s exegesis of this poem, and the light it sheds on an aggressor’s poison entering the ecosystem and finally returning to its originator.


Related: Take it from me - British TV and film are rife with sexual bullying | Arabella Weir

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