English Lit - Poetry

Who so list to hount I knowe where is an hynde

Overview; persona is chasing a deer, who works as an extended metaphor for a woman, but is presented as an impossible quest - unrequited love = she "belongs to Cesar"

Language: 

  • "I ame of them that farthest cometh behinde" = impression of promiscuity or visual imagery of an aggressive pursuit - a hunt of many men chasing after a weak and powerless deer
  • "Weried mynde" = emotional exhaustion, giving up? Notices he has no chance with her as he is the furthest behind in the hunt - a very physically and emotionally draining pursuit
  • "Faynting I followe" = alliteration empahsing his frustration and draws a clear link to her and his exhaustion 
  • "I seke to hold the wynde" = animalistic imagery; wants to hunt her down and trap her in a cage or is the persona suggesting she is a force of nature and impossible to catch - fruitless pursuit 
  • Volta = "who so list to hount, I put him owte of dowbte" = giving her up
  • "And graven with Diamondes (...) there is written her faier neck" = Cesar marking his territory and almost wearing her as a trophy and gives impression of possession as she wears a collar - owned by him? "For Cesar's I ame" and "wylde for you to hold though I seme tame" = original line = "it has pleased my Cesar to make me free" - element of freedom or entrapment? 
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Who so list to hount I knowe where is an hynde

Context:

  • Wyatt was imprisoned in the Tower of London on suspicion of commiting adultery with Anne Boleyn = deer and Cesar = Henry VIII? 
  • Poem inspired by Petrarch's Sonnet 190
  • The myth of Acteon = hunter stumbles upon Diana, Godess of the Hunt, naked. In embrassment, she spashes water upon the hunter - this turns him into a deer and he is hunted down. Could this illustrate how lust is the pursuit of desire which ultimately leads to self-destruction?
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Sonnet 116 - William Shakespeare

Overview; love is unbending and travels through life and death - love does not fade and is impenetrable as it is eternal and constant. Shakepeare also argues that true love isn't a fool to time as it never reshapes and is an eternal passion

Language: 

  • "Marriage of true mindes" = an extended metaphor for the compatibility of the mind where two reflective people unite or is the persona reflecting on a homosexual relationship where it is only the marriage of the mind due to societal expectations? 
  • "Love is not love which alters" = if love bends, it is artificial 
  • "O no, it is an ever fixed marke" structually placed in the middle of the poem, suggesting that love is at the heart of this poem? True love is impenetrable and everlasting and stains those it touches
  • "It is the star to every wandring barke" = extended metaphor for love - it acts as a lighthouse for lost ships, providing light to hopeless/helpless people
  • "Love's not Times foole, though rosie lips and cheeks within his bending sickles compasse come" = speaking of old love - love never moves and will follow you through death; "bending sickles" = stereotype for Grim Reaper
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Sonnet 116 - William Shakespeare

  • "I never writ, nor no man ever loved" = poet's truth - by suggesting that no man has ever loved you are also suggesting that Shakepeare has never written; makes his argument impossible to dispute - his perspective on love is true like no other 

Context: 

  • Renaisance poetry = poetry used to express love and passion
  • Romantic intentions but also political ones - guiding light = change?
  • Shakespeare is challenging the conventions of love - what it is and isn't
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The Flea - John Donne

Overview; embodies sexual desire, sin, holiness and marriage through the extended metaphor of the flea which represents their love. Persona is trying to convince a lady to surrender her virginity and argues that this would not be sinful or wrong as they have already become "one flesh" within the flea

Language: 

  • "And in this flea, our two bloods mingled me" = the consumation of marriage was when, socially, two people became one; their fluids have already mingled within the flea who represnts the body of love as they are now one 
  • "Three lives in one flea spare" = reference to the Holy Trintity (using religios imagery to persuade the lady to sleep with him) - the flea is representive of their marriage bedand blood represents life, suggesting that they are both a part of the flea and without it they will both die like the flea
  • "Self murder (...) three sins in killing three" = suicide is seen as sinful within Christian religion and the persona attempts to use this to scare her into sleeping with him, stating that if she kills the flea she will be ending three lives which is punishable in the eyes of God. or, is the persona trying to illustrate how not being with him is sinful in itself?
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The Flea - John Donne

  • "Cruel and sudden, hast thou since purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?" = has the lover killed the flea or is the persona stating what would happen, metaphorically, if she deneid him?
  • "Wherein could this flea guilty be" = why would you/have you killed the hope of our union, it's harmless!
  • "Yet thou truimph'st" = is the lover happy she's killed the flea? Suggestive of unrequited love

Context:

  • Metaphysical love poetry = flea is metaphysical of the oneness of lovers and illustrates how ****** life has a mystical ability to unite two people which also fulfills a religious purpose 
  • John Donne secretely married employer but was arrested - contexually, if the flea representaive of the obstacles stopping them from uniting?
  • Could argue that this poem is personal to John Donne as it was written for a private audience instead of public 
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To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell

Overview; the persona uses the metaphor of love to to replicate a timeless and boundless love, but also uses it to illustate how time is running out for them and they must consumate their relationship before it's too late

Language:

  • "Had we but World enough, and Time, this coyness lady were no crime" = if time was limitless, they could spend their time in leisure and her modesty wouldn't be a problem - the lady is only allowed to postpone her commitment to the persona if youth were to last and time is limitless...but time is feeble and fleeting
  • "Love you ten years before the flood and you should if you please refuse till the coversion of the Jews" = hyperbole; his love for her is unbound from time...he would love her before the flood of Noah's Ark (beginning of time) and until all of the Jews coverted their religion (end of time)
  • "My vegetable Love should grow" = the persona would spend years growing his love and making it perfect for her, all the while spending "an hundred years (...) praise thine eyes(...) and "two hundred to adore each Breast" - his love would be strong, rooted to the earth
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To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell

  • "Times winged Charriot hurrying near" = Greek mythology = the sun (God Apollo) - his love is omnipotent 
  • "Thy Beauty shall no more be found (...) then Worms shall try that long preserv'd virginity" = juxtaposes idea of eternal life with eternal death and introduces reality - time is not timeless, though; both will perish and her beauty will be lost within the ground 
  • "Now let us sport us while we may" = "now" = introducing present time, concluding his argument and uses repetition to quote his impatience and the ticking of the metaphorical clock - time
  • "And now, like am'rous birds of prey, rather at once our Time devour" = scavengers are feeding on their time and they eat quickly which juxtaposes the slow-paced time he illustrated through previous stanzas

Context:

Carpe Diem poetry = sentiment that carries an awareness of the passage of time and the fleeting nature of life; the exhoration to take hold of the present moment 

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A Song (Absent from thee) - John Wilmot

Overview; the persona persuading his lover to let him experience other women and take part in infedelity. 

Language:

  • "Absent from thee I languish still" = languish = to become weak/forced to remain within an unpleasant situation - wants to escape his commitment to her?
  • "To wish all Day, all Night to Mourn" = pun with "morn" = they will have to wait until morning, and this will be their suffering 
  • "Dear, from thine Arms then let me flie (...) that tears my fixt Heart from my Love" = juxtaposing verbs of "flie" - representing freedom and suggesting he is trapped like a bird and longs to be free and "tears" = suggesting another force taking him away from her - desire? Also has emotive connotations, implying it is painful for the persona to seperate from her or could be reaffirming the boundries of where he is and where he wants to be. Manipulation?
  • "That my Fantastick mind may prove, the Torments it deserves to try" = recognising himself as worthy of his torments or "fantastick" emphasising the ways his dreams are idealised and at mercy of his emotions?
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A Song (Absent from thee) - John Wilmot

  • "When wearied with a world of Woe" = fidelity contrasting infidelity in "world of Woe" - alliteration emphasising his self-pity as he is wallowing in it as well as heightening the lack of satisfaction others will give him - manipulation 
  • "To thy safe Bosom I retire" = recognises her as a safe haven, something he can return to after exhausting himself with other women - expecting her to wait for him 
  • "I fall on some base heart unblest" = "fall" = romantic cliche or clumsy love? "Unblest" = connoting with sin 

Context:

  • Restorative poetry
  • Satirical; made to be shocking and mocks the traditional love poetry which uses overdone cliches
  • Poem written after the Reformation, when people had a very simple perspective on love and religion, mixing religious imagery with sexual imagery, suggesting that love and religions should go hand in hand and are meant to be fun - Wilmot = athiest, challenging ideas about love and religion? 
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The Garden of Love - William Blake

Overview; persona is critical of religion and its impact on love, shown through the biblical connotation of the Garden of Eden

Language:

  • First person = engages with the senses of the speaker and amplifies his opinions
  • "And the gates of this chapel were shut, and "Thou shalt not" writ over the door" = writer reaffirming how although religion has such a big influence, it is absent and not welcome to people. Organised religions forbids people from enjoying certain features of life - imperative - echoes back the commandments of religion and refers back to the Garden of Eden as they were prohibited by religion. Or, is this symbolic for Heaven, where people are only allowed to enter paradise if they've followed the rules of life? 
  • "That so many sweet flowers bore" = metaphor for the ways love is no longer authentic, but stopped by the institutuions of religion - Blake is clearly critical of marriage laws and how it reduces love to duty instead of authentic affection 
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The Garden of Love - William Blake

  • "And I saw it was filled with graves, and tomb-stones where flowers should be, and priests in their black gowns were walking their rounds" = reinforces the ways love is being neglected in favour of decay. Death imagery within the semantic imagery of "graves," "tomb-stones," and "black" showing how religion is killing love; priests are fixated on rituals of religion and the church is leading to its corruption. Love is symbolised by flowers - natural forces that are unable to flourish 

Context:

  • Was written to express Blake's beliefs on the naturalness of sexuality and how organised religion encourage repression of natural desires 
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Song (Ae Fond Kiss) - Robert Burns

Overview; persona separating from lover and experiences the death and pain of their relationship 

Language:

  • Scottish dialect - very personal 
  • "Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; ae fareweel, and then for ever" = resonates the intensity of their parting; rhymed with "for ever" which is broken into two to amplify the finality of their love
  • "Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee" = creates semantic field of romantic suffering as in deep, emotional pain; mourning the death of their involvement
  • "While the star of hope she leaves him" = creates visual imagery and depicts his sorrow - the only light in the sky has left and now he is left completely alone
  • "Me, nae chearful twinkle lights me; dark despair around benights me" = this idea of death is further reinforced through the juxtaposition of "cheeful lights" and "dark despair" - there is no longer light around him and all colour has been drained due to his "star of hope" leaving him, left with the impending doom of darkness
  • "My Nancy" = ironic, not his to have - indenial?
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Song (Ae Fond Kiss) - Robert Burns

  • "Had we never lov'd sae blindly" = ignorance of their love - depicting the quote "love is blind" and idea of Cupid and reflecting on "what if." Lov'd = past tense and split into two - broken-hearted and incomplete without her, like two halves of a heart
  • "Thine be ilka joy and treasure, Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!" = he is enchanted by her memory but has no bitterness towards her as wishing her the best - genuine affection? Finally internalising their separation as recognises that this is her future now, not theirs 
  • "Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae fareweel, Alas, for ever!" Onomatopoeic cyclical structure - reflecting on how his pain is forever and eternal or on how she will always remain within his heart and mind? 

Context:

  • Poem written after Burn's last meeting with a married woman - is she Nancy and this poem is about losing her? "Ae fond kiss" = only a kiss = their memories are rekindled within their final moment of passion 
  • Romantics poetry = time of physical confrontation and highlighted the importance of the imagination to transcend inner troubles = Burns is confronting a painful memory and perhaps imagining them having one last kiss in order to transcend his pain into happiness
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She Walks in Beauty - Lord Byron

Overview; a man sees a woman and believes her to be the aura of beauty 

Language:

  • "She walks in beauty, like the night" = signalling foscus - her. He is drawn in by her aura of beauty and the simile suggests that she is like a star, standing out in the darkness
  • "Of cloudless climes and starry skies" alloteration = she's something to notice - stunning imagery. This suggests her beauty outlasts daylight and focuses on inner perfection which is produced by beauty which is superior to nature 
  • "Thus mellowed to that tender light which Heaven to gaudy day denies" = she has both features of darkness and light - contexually, Byron sees his cousin in mourning, is she shrouded in darkness (sadness) but he sees a light within her
  • "Had half impaired the nameless grace" = focuses on her ability to light up darkness with her aura of inner and outer beauty. "Nameless" = her beauty cannot be put into words
  • "Which waves in every raven tress, or softly lightens o'er her face" = her dark dress (context) contrasts the light of her face which reaffirms the goodness within her - she is pure
  • Entire focus is on her, no focus on the speaker - true admiration?
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She Walks in Beauty - Lord Byron

  • "A mind at peace with all below, a heart whose love is innocent!" = she is able to bring beauty of darkness and daylight without any contradiction; she has the ability to bring out the light through the entire world - does she resemble both sunrise and sundown? The world centers on her

Context:

  • Romantic poetry = believed people shouldn't be chained down to the ritual of marriage and instead should celebrate affection in its purest forms
  • Romantics also connote beauty with nature - she is the stars, the sun and the moon
  • Byron went to a party to see his cousin in a mourning dress and her beauty astounded him - "raven tress"
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Remember - Christina Rossetti

Overview; a female persona speaks to her current lover about remembering her when she dies; however, within the volta, this changes to the persona saying to her lover that if this is too painful, then he should forget her

Language:

  • "Remember me" = imperative; sense of desperation and insecurity of being forgotten? 
  • "Gone far away into the silent land" = equates death - loneliness without lover, euphemism for graveyard?
  • "When you can no more hold me by the hand" = physical separation - boundaries of life and death restrict their love as they are unable to touch due to the distance death puts between them. "Hold me by the hand" connotes guidance - concern of being without that guiding light 
  • Volta = "yet if you should forget me for a while" = change in direction - reflecting the navigation of the speaker's mind as she has an internal conflict which is further emphasised through the enjambment which acts as a string of conciousness
  • "Do not grieve" = new imperative
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Remember - Christina Rossetti

  • "Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad" = shwoing an antithesis through the juxtaposing verbs "forget" and "remember," "smile" and "sad" = sacrificing own desire to be remembered, stating that if it is too painful then to just forget them - selflessness 

Context:

  • Written when she was 19 years old 
  • At the age of 18, Rossetti had learned much about the fragility of life. Her father was continually sick with either the world's worst case of bronchitis, or, possibly, tuberculosis, and she herself had a serious mental breakdown sometime in the 1840's 
  • The speaker's poem is an immortal reminder. Even as she worries, she writes this poem so that she will be remembered forever. That's one of powers of poetry: it can even beat death.
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The Scrutiny - Richard Lovelace

Overview; the persona feels trapped within a commitment to a woman and seeks to escape it in order to explore other women 

Language:

  • " Lady it is already morn and 'twas last night I swore to thee that fond impossibility" = naming the lover a fool for believing he'd commit to her and reaffirms the impossibility of it. She is also only named as "lady" - piece of meat; doesn't set her apart from other women and sees them all as equal pursuits and has no emotional connection to them 
  • "Have I not loved thee much and long, a tedious twelve hours' space?" = focusing on lust-driven time-frame which is juxtaposed with her and the difference between what she wants and what he's given her. Repitition of "t" also replicates the temporary nature of their relationship. Also mimics ticking of the clock - slow-paced
  • "I must all other Beauties wrong" = capitalisation of beauties mimics the speaker's objectifying nature - fixation with new embraces
  • "Not, but all joy in thy brown hair" = almost sarcastic comment, brown suggesting boring and dullness, juxtaposed with the "black and fair"
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The Scrutiny - Richard Lovelace

  • "For treasure in un-plowed-up ground" = their virginity is his conquest as they are 'his to conquer' also reference to Restorative time period - discovery and refers to women as inanimate objects. Verb of "plowed" also mimics sexual action that he's concerned with - the only focus of his mind
  • Dramatic monologue = forcing lover into passive position? Further enhanced by repetition of "I"  - only employed with his wanting and desires - imperative message 

Context:

  • Restorative poetry - very patriarchic time - women forced into a passive postion; nameless and unheard
  • Lovelace known for being a lady's man...but, could this poem mimic a sense of entrapment, personified by love? 
  • Lovelace spent a long time in prison 
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The Ruined Maid - Thomas Hardy

Overview; a satiral poem about the Victorian era, focussing on a conversation between two women - poor, illerate and more illerate prostitute

Language:

  • "Fair garments, such prosperi-ty?" = Judgemental tone from speaker one - based on superficial changes to ruined maid (speaker two) - bitterness and jealousy?
  • "You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks" = instills image of Victorian poverty, jusxtaposed with "fair garments" - Hardy being critical of the wealthy through satire?
  • "Thee" "thou" "thik oon" "theas oon" and "t'other" = illerate speach of first speaker juxtaposes the elegance of the second speaker, echoeing the gloom of poverty and signals of struggles 
  • "Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak but now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek" = alliteration and animalistic imagery - almost bitter and jealous - big divide between the farm worker and mistress; also mimicing the detrimental conditions of the poor
  •  "You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream" = stuck within the cycle of poverty and melancholy - desperately wants her life and to escape her "hag-ridden dream" - Hardy emphasising terrible conditions of the poor as would rather be sold to prostitution than be in poverty
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The Ruined Maid - Thomas Hardy

  • "I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown" = "feathers" connoting with being able to fly away and escape - sense of entrapment?"
  • "My dear" = reinstates the division between them as both have very different lives but still in the same detrimental conditions 

Context:

  • Satirical poem criticing Victorian society and the divide between the rich and poor
  • Thomas Hardy = a realist who was very critical of Victorian society and sexuality - rules for everything for women 
  • "Ruined" = damaged goods, she has exposed herself to sex and now is a social outcast 
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At an Inn - Thomas Hardy

Overview; the speaker recalls a time where a plantonic relationship was considered romantic. Although the speaker wishes that they were, he also feels that these assumptions ruined the hope for them uniting as a couple

Language:

  • "Vieled smiles bespoke their thought of what we were" = people at the pub are assuming they are a couple - speaker wishes they were?
  • "And that swift sympathy with living love" = allliteration emphasises what love looks like - excitement
  • "Which quicks the world - maybe the spheres above" = love makes time go faster - love defeats the boundaries of time and temporality 
  • "'Ah, God, that bliss like theirs would flush our day!'" = direct quote = the people at the pub wants the bliss that the companions have; dramatic irony as not together! Going round in a loop - look together, not together - speaker almost obsessing over it in their mind. But, how are they together? Within Victorian society, it would be inappropiate for a woman to be with a man who they're not married to - is this poem representative of Hardy challenging Victorian society?
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At an Inn - Thomas Hardy

  • "Yet never the love-light shone between us there!" = there is no chemistry between them
  • "But that which chilled the breath of that afternoon and palsied unto death" = their relationship with each other has become cold, juxtaposing the earlier line "warmed as they opined." This idea is further reinforced by "palsied unto death" = their relationship has become paralysed and there is no hope for them - as futile as a fly "the pane-fly's tune"
  • "Came not: within his hold love lingered numb" = switches to third person narrative - more powerful voice and almost god-like speaker, suggesting there are other forces objecting to their love - "love lingered numb" = alliteration reinforcing the futility of his hope 
  • "Why cast he on our port a bloom not ours?" = port = wine - intoxicated with the idea of them, connoting with red = passion which has turned bleak and colourless - numb. Frustrated that he was led to believe they could work as a couple?
  • "And now we seem not what we aching are, O severing sea and land" = time is intensified = alliteration accentuates the division and finality of them

Context:

  • Metaphysical for Victorian social conventions of love which destroy love, not allowing it to flourish; the pub people representing superficial judgements of Victorian era
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La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad - John Keats

Overview; anonymous speaker talking to a knight who is dying due to the mesmerising powers of a woman

Language:

  • "Alone and paley loitering? The sedge has withered from the lake, and no birds sing" = the Knight is pale and alone, paralysed - what has caused him to fall so ill? Pathetic fallacy = landscape is dying around him and no sound from nature - euphemism for death?
  • "I see a lily on thy brow, with anguish moist and fever-dew and on thy cheeks a fading rose" = lily = flower most connoted with funerals as it symbolises the departed soul. Euphemism and almost forebodes the Knight's fate as he is a "fading rose" and it dying like everything around him
  • "Full beautiful - a faery's child" = mytholigical reference - been under a spell? Enchanting imagery 
  • "She looked at me as she did love, and made sweet moan" = biased perspective and unreliable - subjective of interest, is he dreaming? Passionate "moan" alludes to the idea of his enchantment and sexual passion - still under her spell?
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La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad - John Keats

  • "I set her on my pacing stead (...) a faery's song" = phallic imagery? He is completely spell-bound by her beauty and mesmerised by her - mythlogical imagery = she is so beautiful that she is beyond humanity's standards?
  • "And honey wild, and manna-dew" = the woman gives him biblical delights - using her sexual prowess to entice him?
  • "And there I shut her wild wild eyes" = repetition of wild = eyes wide with terror - ****, or enchanting? 
  • "I saw pale kings and princes too, pale warriors, death-pale were they all" = drain of colour completely and of life - almost halluncinatory and ghost-like
  • "I saw their starved lips in the gloam, with horrid warning gaped wide" = infatuation with pain; carried away by passion of her but brought back by a warning of others - ghost-like imagery, suggesting they are her "victims" - shallow attraction?
  • "Alone and paley loitering, though the sedge is withered from the lake, and no birds sing" = cyclical element; his true fate is inescapable - destined for death where there is only silence - paralysed due to fixation, or with-drawal like symptoms?
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La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad - John Keats

Context:

  • Keats heavily inspired by medieval poetry and a Romantic poet - progressive belief that love should take over the rituals of marriage and love should be drawn in by intuition, like nature - a natural force
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Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae

Overview; a speaker claims he has been faithful to his lover by always thinking of her

Language

  • "Cynara!" = constantly repeated throughout the poem to reinforce how she is always on the speaker's mind - ended with an exclamation mark - trying to catch her attention or does this mimic the speaker's obsession? Cynara = Greek mythology - beautiful girl who Zeus instantly fell in love with
  • Ends each stanza with "I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion" = every stanza ends with the thought of her - obsessive thoughts, almost mimicing the structure of the poet's flow of consiousness, claiming he has been faithful by thinking of her during intercourse with another woman
  • "Upon my soul between the kisses and wine; and I was desolate and sick of an old passio, yea I was desolate and bowed my head" = instantly suggesting that this passion is not long-lasting - their flame of "passion" has been extinguished through the semantic field of "kisses" "wine" being juxtaposed with "desolate"
  • "All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat" = warm juxtaposed with "old passion" - she is nothing to compare
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Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae

  • "Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet; but I was desolate and sick of an old passion" = "bought red mouth" - prostitue, paid to emmulate old lover
  • "When I awoke and found the dawn was gray" = dawn - the first appearance of light in the sky after darkness - jusxtaposed with the visual imagery of a gray sun - life has been drained of colour without his "old passion" 
  • "Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng" = alliteration reinforces his frustrations - violent imagery - roses typical picture of live being flung - angry at love?
  • "Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine" = shift to present tense - reader forced to visually pause by her name - impact of his affection for her and her affect on him 

Context:

  • Dowson associated with Decadment movement - delightment of perversion
  • Fell in love with a child - obsessed with lost love and longs for a former lover 
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