Forgiveness is an important life skill for students. On the other end of that spectrum lies the potential damage of holding grudges. To help my students understand the poisonous nature of sustained anger, I read the poem “A Poisonous Tree” by William Blake, in which the speaker uses symbolism to help the reader visualize the toxic nature of holding on to resentment. I would preface this poem with Benjamin Franklin’s conversation about forgiveness and ask students to brainstorm the benefits of forgiveness. After reading the poem, we would revisit this conversation and draw conclusions about how bottling up one’s anger can be harmful.
Level: Secondary English/Language Arts
Subject Area: Poetry
Author: Tiffany Heitman