This poem is meant to present a really pleasant prospect of rural life (idealising it as we've mentioned before) and a big part of that is in the way that the poem reads.
The gentle alliteration in the opening line of the 'l' and 'm' sounds ('live' and 'love'; 'me' and 'my') mean that although the poem is delivered as an imperative/command it is meant to be presenting an idyllic life for the speaker's love to choose to be a part of or not. You'll notice that this alliteration permeates the whole poem - 'seeing the shepherds', shepherd's swain' and 'May morning', 'mind may move' - and this is done deliberately to make the poem be read in a tranquil way mirroring the picture of life it presents. It's not just these letters that appear alliteratively, but I'll leave you to examine the rest, but they are all contributing to the overall peaceful mood and sound of the poem.
Tranquil imagery in the poem. Our first scene is in the countryside by the shepherd and his flock, but this image is accompanied by the sound of a 'shallow river' and their 'falls', something which must be gently burbling by rather than a Niagra Falls racket, and the 'melodius birds sing[ing] madrigals'.
The gifts that he promises to bestow also continue the idea of comfort and peace. A 'beds of roses' is quite a clichéd phrase these days, but presents an image of the softness of rose petals piled together coupled with the pleasant, but never overpowering scent of rose blossom. Similarly the gown of 'the finest wool' would be great to snuggle up in and keep warm.
The gifts are significant for a whole range of other reasons as well. Red roses are clearly a sign of romantic intention, but the colour of these roses is not specified and this bed could be of white roses which have connotations of innocence and purity and as a result are often linked to marriage. A 'kirtle'/coat of 'myrtle' has similar connotations as 'myrtle ' leaves are the symbol for marriage in the Hebrew and have long been associated with love and caring. The very idea of providing someone with a coat could be linked to an idea of wanted to protect and take care of them.
Alongside these symbolic intentions of matrimony, we also have the glorification of the lover through the luxurious offerings of gold and amber. Gold is often associated with royalty as a gift befitting the baby Jesus, so the offering of this is an indication of the importance of this lover in the speaker's eye. Similarly 'amber' is a precious stone so elevates her importance if it is being proffered, but it could also have some biblical reference as God is once referred to as shining like amber (Ezekiel 1:17), which could be a deliberate attempt by the speaker to suggest his love is in some way divine (certainly in her importance to him).
Clearly many of these gifts would actually be pretty useless or difficult to make, but we should also consider what each can be used to represent emotionally:
- 'beds of roses', 'thousand fragrant posies' = comfortable and enjoyable life.
- 'a cap of flowers' - a crown, treat her like royalty.
- 'a kirtle embroidered all with leaves of myrtle' - protection, marriage and security.
- 'a gown made of the finest wool' - warmth, comfort in her life.
- 'slippers for the cold' - warmth, protection.
- 'buckles of gold'; 'coral clasps and amber studs' - adorning her with beauty to reflect his perception of her.
He positions life as being dedicated to passion (love and romance) with joyful moments and judgement from above, drawing similarities between these elements of life and drama, musical interludes and the demanding spectators.
This comparison allows him to trivialise the importance of life as a play is short and ultimately unimportant.
It's a contemplation of life and mortality, examined through the analogy of the stage. We listen to the joyous, but relatively insignificant comparisons between our earthly life and the stage; however, we are finally confronted with the solemn issue of death.
The poem opens with a rhetorical question that Raleigh then goes onto explore
If life is a 'play of passion' then he suggest that love may be the central focus of our lives. We are prepared for the stage in our 'mother's womb', which perhaps suggest the inevitability of fate as it's not really possible to consciously prepare as a tiny foetus. The comparison of life to a 'short comedy' emphasises the fact that all things may not run smooth and it is all over quickly; in a way this demonstrates the insignificance of man's life in contrast to the depth suggested in the opening line.
Lines 5 and 6 link earthly life with the possibility of heavenly salvation should we live in the right manner with the 'judicious sharp spectator', God, judging our every move. With judgement made, 'drawn curtains' are the mud covering our coffins as we lie in our graves.
Up to this stage his contemplation seems quite positive with whimsical comparisons and mentions of amusement, passion and virtue (God's judgement); however, the last couplet is a complete change of tone and idea. 'Thus we march' towards our deaths suggests the inevitability of all our actions/acts leading to the end and the 'short comedy' mentioned before is now replaced with tragedy as death is 'no jest'.
He writes her name in the sand only for it to be washed away, for which she chastises him for trying to make a mortal become immortal. However, he tells her he will make her last forever in his poetry.
Obviously love, but more interestingly mortality.
Spenser thinks his verse can conquer mortality and make something last forever. This should sound quite familiar
Beautifully simple, just with a few archaic words to trip you up.
In the first quartet, we open with this image of the lovers on a beach and Spenser writing his love's name in the sand twice, with the waves washing it away each time. The waves represent mortality: Boyle will not last forever, but will be swept away by death inevitably.
The second quartet is written in Boyle's voice. She gently chastises him for being 'vain' enough to think he can conquer mortality and drawing more acutely the comparison between the waves washing her name away and the fact that she 'shall like to this decay' - end up the same way.
The third quartet and the final couplet are just mesmerisingly beautiful.
Spenser voice now informs Boyle that 'baser things' shall be allowed 'to die in dust', but she is elevated above everything - other people, animals, whatever - and is seen as worthy of eternity. He promises her she 'shall live by fame' as he will 'eternise' (weird way of saying make eternal) her through his 'verse' - the expression of her virtues in his poetry
He is indeed vain, as he claims in this final couplet that they will defeat death while it 'shall all the world [apart from them] subdue'. There love will live forever in his poetry!
This is about praising the beauty and life that Spring produces.
However, it is also praising some of the things Spring might represent. For instance, the beginning of a relationship can and is linked to the Spring.
Paints a glamorised picture of nature and pastoral life - more rural existence.
Other than nature, I would potentially link this to themes of life and mortality given that it positions Spring as life bursting with freshness and joy.
In the opening stanza Spring is crowned 'the year's pleasant king', contrasted with Summer which is seen as 'king of the world'. This suggests to me that while summer is rich, ripe and powerful, while Spring is not as powerful it is the most joyous and enjoyable time of year.
'Blooms' suggest nature is at its most fresh and beautiful stage; 'maids' dancing show that people are joyful and celebrating the end of the cold of Winter (it is still cold, but it 'doth not sting' - chilly rather than unpleasant weather); and 'pretty birds' singing creates an idea of optimism and contentment for all elements of this pastoral world. This all seems focused on visual imagery.
Spring festivals - 'palm and may' - mean that the countryside seemed to be filled with joy in stanza two and new born lambs 'frisk and play' conveying a sense of energy, excitement and fresh spirit for everyone. Those birds keep on chirping happily and now are joined by shepherds becoming musically inspired too. Now we are being bombarded with the sounds of merriment and enjoyment.
Finally, we 'breathe sweet' scents of nature being reborn through fresh fields and daisies. This stanza also then makes a direct comparison between the season and love, tying Spring to when 'young lovers meet' and thus romance, the excitement of possibility and maybe even fertility. It concludes with an idea that the joy of Spring is not an isolated thing, but 'every street' seems alive with the music and joy of the season.
Rhyming is a big thing here and it's pretty easy to explain why.
You'll notice that all the lines of each stanza, bar the last line, rhyme (sit is a half-rhyme...)! So simple. You may not have noticed that this rhyme also appears somewhere else in most lines:
Stanza 1 - spring, king, thing, ring, sting, sing
Stanza 2 - may, gay, play, day, aye (I'm fairly sure it's meant to be pronounced in the same way here), lay
Stanza 3 - sweet, feet, meet, sit, street, greet
Why? Remember this was originally a song in a play, so this simple rhyme helps with rhythm and to achieve a sing songy progression that is as cheerful as the content being covered.
The repetition of the bird song both acts as a chorus and it fills the song/poem with joyful chirping the whole way through.
Joy and excitement - celebrating the end of the cold and death and the arrival of warmth and opportunity.
This is a celebration of a girl's beauty through comparison with the Summer, a reflection on mortality and a promise to transcend death through poetry.
love, mortality and nature. However, I suppose you could also talk about the power of literature too.
We begin with the overblown flattery of the poetic voice's love, move onto discussing how even the brightest day has to fade - mortality - and end with a promise that poetry can overcome the mortal weakness of flesh and preserve love and beauty forever. Nature is used throughout to serve as a suitable comparison.
A rhetorical question opens the sonnet, questioning whether the summer is fair enough to be compared to the poetic voice's love. Suggesting summer as being similar should immediately make you think of connotations such as warm, joyful, bright and beautiful. However, his love is 'more lovely' and 'more temperature' meaning that her beauty and her personality/attitude are even more impressive than the summer's.
I'll mention two interpretations for lines three to six.
I read this as a reflection on mortality as the 'rough winds' of May shaking the 'darling buds' represents the tempestuous spring, which in turn could represent a period where a woman's beauty and attitude are being refined. Buds are the suggestions of beauty waiting to burst forth as flowers. Next 'summer's lease' is described as being 'too short', which makes us think about the autumn and the winter to follow that will corrupt and decay the absolute beauty of the summer. These two lines show that this perfection of his love is not going to last forever and is confined within a short period of her life.
The fifth and sixth line I see as the inevitable decline associated with mortality. Her beauty ('the eye of heaven' - heaven's perfect creation) was 'too hot' and therefore would the perfect 'gold complexion' always have to eventually be 'dimmed' like the sun gradually falling after midday. As the sun rises and falls, so too must his love's beauty.
Others have interpreted these lines as suggesting that his love is unlike summer because the season is sometimes afflicted with 'rough winds', often seems to be over before it's begun and (in lines five and six) is sometimes too bright or sometimes too dim, whereas his love is always beautiful.
It's up to you which you find more convincing, or you could always mention alternative interpretations.
I believe my interpretation makes more sense when you consider that the next lines confirm that 'every fair... sometime declines' suggesting every beauty eventually fades either 'by chance' or 'nature's changing course', so either accident/illness or simply through ageing.
The final quatrain is Shakespeare's attempt to defy mortality. He promises that 'thy eternal summer' or beauty 'shall not fade' as he this sonnet will preserve the memory through 'eternal lines'. Of course, he can't stop her dying physically, but with this poem he prevents death from decaying or diminishing her beauty fully and leaving her forgotten.
'So long as men can breathe' and see, then they will read this poem and contemplate her beauty. Lovely stuff.
This poem is all about love, but particularly love in association with mortality as it explores the idea of ageing and the effect it has on other's feelings towards you - intensifying love. The poet describes himself as an old man through comparison with nature and seems filled with regret as he hints at the joys and happiness of his youth. This is not so much about an impending death, but more the death or end of youthful joy.
The main one is clearly mortality as Shakespeare seems to be describing the effects of ageing in a quite despairing manner, but there is also the use of nature or natural elements to convey metaphorically the impact the ageing process has on life.
The last couplet also connects the sonnet to love as Shakespeare expects his friends and families feeling to intensify as he grows older.
This is divided into three quatrains that each use nature or a natural element to metaphorically explore the impact of ageing.
In the opening quatrain Shakespeare tells us that we can see autumn in him. His looks have obviously faded as comparing himself to a tree with yellow leaves or without leaves (maybe telling us he feels he is approaching the end of the autumn of his life), which doesn't stand up to the beauty of a tree in the blossom of spring or the fresh and thick green of summer. In addition to his appearance, he uses autumn to tells us that there is also less spark or joy in his life as the 'choirs' of 'sweet birds' have disbanded and no longer sing, suggesting that he doesn't feel the joy or enthusiasm of his youth any more.
The next comparison is to a single day or particularly the light of a single day. If we imagine the sun's cycle from sunrise to sunset as the course of birth through to death, we can see that Shakespeare feels he is coming towards the end and his life is 'fadeth'. When things fade they lose their colour and their beauty and this quatrain contains the idea that the blackness of night is gradually taking this away, even as the poem progresses, and Shakespeare is thinking about what will inevitably follow. The connection with death is made first through the suggestion that he is at his 'twilight', so barely hanging on to any light at all, and then directly. It might confuse you what 'Death's second self' means, but it is pretty simplistic really as the darkness of the night carries age old associations with death.
The final quatrain sees an analogy with a fire. Imagine a fire just beginning and gradually growing as youth, then as it roars and leaps above your wood pile as being mature, then as it ages we see it clinging to smaller bits of wood and just smouldering linking to old age, before finally being extinguished completely representing death. Shakespeare's imagery is clearly filled with sorrow at the passing of his youth as he isn't in anyway nostalgic about his past glories, but here just laments their passing mentioning the 'ashes of his youth'. This suggests that he cannot celebrate the past as it has been left ruined and worthless like ash - dirty, smelly and a mere fragment of the glorious wood and flame that represented his youth. Again this stage of his life is linked to death or his 'deathbed' rather than looking back nostalgically.
The couplet at the end of the sonnet now addresses the audience directly. He tells us we because of our mortality and our short stay on earth it is important that we love 'more strong' or make the most of our time/youth.
This poem is another song taken from a Shakespeare play; this time it's As You Like It. Pathetic fallacy is used throughout to compare the harsh and bitter winter weather with a friendship turned sour and forgotten with friendship seemingly the more painful and difficult to endure.
As above, this is about the power of human relationships and the bitterness of betrayal. We've also obviously got the theme of nature being used to convey a message about human emotions and the impact of sour relations/friendship.
The poem addresses the wind, personifying it in order to make the comparison between it and humans completely clear.
Now if you've ever lived in a country with proper winters you'll know that the wind can be extremely bitter and bitingly cold, but this poem immediately claims that this is nothing next to the attitude of men. 'Ingratitude' suggests that the speaker has been treated unfairly by someone who should owe him thanks, if you link this to the context there are obvious comparisons within the play. The 'tooth' not being as 'keen' means that it is not as sharp, so it doesn't inflict as much pain as that caused by betrayal from a friend. However, the reason the wind is not seen as hurtful or cruel is because it is 'not seen', which suggests that the speaker feels that whoever has betrayed or let him down is still present in his life and is lauding his actions over our speaker.
The second half of the stanza is meant to show that the speaker is not bitter about what has happened as he is basically saying 'Oh well, let's get on with it and not linger on our anger'. 'Heigh-ho' here it means 'Oh well' and a reference to the fact he is having to overcome a challenge or problem, but is facing it positively - it can mean boredom or fatigue, which would mean he is tired of dwelling on what has happened. The fact it is repeated three time in the chorus could mean that the speaker is trying to convince himself to be optimistic and to get on with things, but is finding it hard to just move on without resentment.
However, you have to question whether that is the case based on the opening of the stanza. He also dismisses friendship as 'feigning' (lie) and love as 'folly' (stupidity), which suggests that he feels let down by those closest to him and recognises that his previous emotions or feelings towards whoever is the focus of this poem have evaporated. The reference to 'green holly' links us directly to Duke Senior's plight as he has to retreat to the woods to hold his court.
The second stanza follows the same pattern as the first; we move from the winter wind to its frost and ice, which again is bitingly cold and something to avoid with the aid of a snug jacket at all times. However, it is nothing in comparison to a 'friend remembered not' by someone who has forgotten all you've done for him ('benefits forgot'). Then we return to the chorus once more, flying in the face of what's been said in the first half of the stanza.
Okay, so I've briefly alluded to pathetic fallacy in the overview, but let's explore that in a bit more detail. Human relationships are being referred to here in comparison with the natural harshness and bitterness of the winter. The freezing cold, the bite of the wind and nip of the ice and frost are amongst nature's most deadly or uncomfortable conditions. Winter is often used as a link to ideas of death or lack of emotions, which is appropriate for the focus of this poem.
This poem takes for granted that we understand the vicious nature of this season and uses these most terrible conditions to provide a suitable comparison for the pain he feels has been inflicted upon him by a close friend. We know the weather is 'unkind', has 'bite' and there is a 'sharp' 'sting' to winter conditions, but in the poem these are only mentioned comparatively with the winter coming out kinder than man.
I also mentioned personification earlier; this poem addresses the conditions with 'thou' and it is almost as if the speaker is seeking comfort in this conversation as he is able to express his dissatisfaction. In the first stanza there is a focus on the mouth of the wind as it talks about its 'tooth is not so keen' and 'breath be rude'. This is a familiar piece of personification as people often talk about the biting cold, but the focus could indicate that the person who has betrayed him has done so with his words.
Another thing I might mention is the multi-sensory imagery in the poem: we see the sharp teeth of the offender, but also smell his 'rude' breath; we also feel the 'bite' and the sharp 'sting' that our speaker has felt through being let down by his friend. This is significant because it shows us that the pain inflicted by the inconstance of love is all encompassing.
Finally, let's deal with the chorus. You can read the chorus in two ways: one, as an optimistic approach to hardship where our speaker is moving on from it; or alternatively it is bitterly satirical and sarcastic and actually he has not intention of being 'jolly'.
The positivity of the language, the punctuation and the expression 'heigh-ho' contrasts dramatically with the implication of the words 'feigning' and 'folly' to describe friendship and love. These words suggests he feels like he has been an idiot or a fool to trust whoever this poem is address to. These words again suggest a bitterness to me that is at odds with the way the chorus is structured.
The last line could be seen as being oxymoronic in relation to what we have learnt in the rest of the poem: how on earth can life be 'most jolly' when you feel let down by those closest to you?
One thing you could discuss is the difference in pace and organisation between the verses and the chorus. Notice the lines change length dramatically at the beginning of the chorus and we move from a standard 6 syllables a line to 10-11. Initially we have short bitter statements about how he feels mistreated, but the chorus becomes more sing-songy as he tries to look on the bright side.
Another difference is the use of alliteration. In stanza one we have the repetition of the stressed 'b', 'w' and even harsh 't' sounds that make us almost spit out the words, mirroring the poetic voice's anger/bitterness. Compare this to the chorus which is also alliterative, but with much gentler 'h', 's', 'f' and 'l' sounds. When we read the chorus it feels like a 'jolly' song, whereas when we read the verse it feels like we are cursing. Additionally, this jolliness is assisted by the repetitive rhyme and simplicity of rhyming words in the chorus as opposed to AABCCB in the verse. You could also point out the enthusiasm with which the verse is delivered as it is punctuated with an exclamation mark.
The difference continues in the second stanza, but this time the verse uses the 'b', 'w' and harsh 's' sounds in the words 'sting' and 'sharp' for the same reasons.
is he bitter and then deeply sarcastic or is this someone who is carrying resentment, but trying to look at things positively?
This poem follows the cycle of the seasons presenting each as a reflection on human life, from childhood to old ages. Spring is the warrior age of energy and romance, giving way to the mature beauty of Summer that still bursts with energy, but is now more controlled and skilful like a hunter.
Autumn is the farmer, mature and contented with life and the happy memories generated, but no longer filled with the vigour of youth. Finally, Winter is presented as a feeble old man crumbling towards the grave in a miserable state.
The most obvious one is nature, but we've also got a reflection on love or attitudes to love and life and quite a poignant reflection on mortality at the end.
So each stanza deals with one of the seasons and draws comparisons with the human lifecycle.
Spring represents young adulthood rather than childhood. In 'lusty Spring' we have an image of youthful vigour and energy. In our youth it is almost like this energy is uncontrollable, like an explosive puppy running around crazily. The personified Spring is described as being dressed in fresh flowers and bloom, so beautiful and fresh and perfect. The thousands of birds and their songs connect the Spring with romance and young love. The word 'paramour' simply means lovers, but very much in a sexual sense rather than a lovers as companions. The comparison now moves on to compare Spring to a human role or function in the world; Spring is a warrior with his javelin and helmet. Spring is loved, but feared. This shows the nature of Spring as a volatile and emotionally immature stage in our lives.
Summer is 'jolly' rather than 'lusty', which moves us on from an image of unbridled energy to someone who is enjoying what life has to offer. Summer wears a green cassock - mirroring the trees full of life - which surely represents fertility and fulfilment. This is the peak of life and there is an association with performing the role of the head of the family as Summer is clearly working hard all day to provide for his family as demonstrated by the fact 'the sweat did drop'. His role as a warrior has now been transformed to the skilled practice of hunting, which we should associate more with providing for his family than random violence and aggression associated with uncontrolled and inexperienced youth. Although Summer is associated with 'sore[s' and 'sweat' and might sound unpleasant, this isn't the case and we should be drawn back to the opening adjective, 'jolly', and realise this is the most fulfilling period in a man's life - as a father, mature and setting himself up for life.
This is clearly seen in Autumn where our personified season is enjoying the labours of his hard work and looking back on his life. The sweat and toil of Summer have left Autumn with 'plenteous store' or lots of fruit or food to keep him going. He is now enjoying the fruits of his labour and no longer has to worry about his belly being 'pinched sore' by hunger and instead 'reaps the ripened fruits' of earlier labour and efforts. Notice how joyful and satisfied we become in this stanza as we 'laugh' and are 'full glad', therefore truly enjoying life.
Winter is a dramatic shift in this poem. While all the other seasons seemed to have a clear purpose, Winter's purpose is to meekly carry on and stave off death for a while. The 'frieze' worn by Winter is a heavy cloth and would have been considerably warmer than the leaves and flowers of spring and the green silk of summer. There are four direct references to the cold in this stanza - 'chattering his teeth for cold', 'chill', 'breath did freeze' and 'faint with cold and weak' - that directly position the cold with death and decay. Winter is fighting off this cold in order to try to preserve his existence, but it is a loosing battle and our once proud hunter is now vastly diminished and enfeebled as he is described repeatedly as 'feeble', 'faint' and being scarcely able to wield his staff. This is in no way a fitting way for the personified image of the previous seasons to end - it is humiliating and painful and is a clear reflection on the cruelty of death and our own mortality.
Language and techniques
The key things to mention are the personification of each season, which is done in order to metaphorically reflect on the human lifecycle.
Role each season has. Spring's warrior, summer's hunter, autumn's farmer and finally winter's - the poems takes us through aggressive and vigorous, but untamed youth; then mature and considered adulthood; next to the carer and father looking after his family; and ending with a decrepit image of a man on his way to the grave. Think about the connotations of each of these roles - strength, bravery; skill, expertise; caring, providing; weak, miserable. There is a clear reflection upon death here and it is not a positive one; old age and the path to the grave are seen as a miserable end to a wonderful existence and the personified winter mirrors the harsh and unforgiving conditions of a particularly fierce English winter time.
Imagery of clothing for each season. We've got the light and beautiful natural leaves and flowers adorning spring, which represent the beauty and perfection of youth; the fertility of the 'thin silken cassock coloured green'; autumn's yellow; followed by the thicker and substantially warmer 'frieze' in winter. These represent the stages of life clearly and represent the purpose of each stage, with winter almost seeming like a way of clinging on or surviving.
Exploring the shared semantic field of joy and beauty in the first three stanzas (stanza one: 'freshly budded', 'new blooms', 'sweetly sung'. Stanza two: 'jolly'. Stanza three: 'plenteous', 'laugh, full glad') in stark contrast with the semantic field of pain and misery in the final stanza ('chattering his teeth', 'chill', 'feeble steps', 'faint with cold and weak'). We've got a real contrast between the joyful elements of life and the sudden decline to misery with the winter and old age.
Foreshadow of death in Autumn. The farmer reaps his crops with a sickle which is traditionally the weapon carried by Death or the Grim Reaper when he comes to take our souls.
This poem is all about how to live a contented life. It seems to describe the life of someone who dedicates their existence to God and avoiding the temptations of the world.
Through following religious doctrine and avoiding other temptations a person is shown to be able to live free from worries, cares or troubles.
I see three main ideas here: faith, mortality and care.
This poem guides us towards a moral life that 'makes the heaven his book' or follows the bible and its teachings. It links religious compliance with freedom from earthly worries and troubles and suggests that righteousness helps one to live without fear of death.
Let's start by explaining what 'upright' means. It has connotations of religious righteousness and morality and the poem seems to suggest that to be upright one must have no sin or mistakes in his past.
The 'guiltless heart' without 'dishonest deeds' or 'vanity' suggests some kind of perfection, but is also unrealistic. Everyone has something to be guilty about and vanity, or putting yourself first, is a perfectly sensible way to act, but maybe not particularly desirable if you want to be a star in the eyes of your religion.
Now consider how appealing the next stanza appears. Live 'silent days' and only get involved in 'harmless joys', thus forget your partying or having a good time/good time with other people as there are obviously too raucous and morally a bit suspect. However, the next two lines are even worse. If 'hopes cannot delude' there is an implication that either an upright person has no hopes or they daren't dream of anything more than the most humble and empty of lives. I find this a pretty depressing image of perfection. I also see 'nor sorrow discontent' as being associated with the emotions of human relationships. If you can't feel sorrow then surely you are limiting your experiences and cannot feel the true elation that meets success or a joyous relationship.
Other analysis might suggest that I am over egging this; I've read that this simple praises those who are honest, do not rely on others and doesn't allow themselves to be carried away or deceived by false hopes.
In stanza three we see the benefits of this kind of lifestyle. This man needs 'neither towers nor armour for defence' links us the idea of royalty or power and the associated stress and troubles. As a result of avoiding power, conflict or self-interest the righteous man has nothing to fear and worry about, on earth or from above. When it ends with 'thunder's violence' we are linked to God and how the upright do not need to fear judgement - thunder is traditional associated with God's wrath and anger.
The religious associations continue with the idea that they are also safe from 'the horrors of the deep', which we should associate with the pain and suffering of hell and the 'terrors of the skies' is associated with the rapture or end of the world, which is the time when you are either judged and cast to hell or ascend to heaven: guess which for our upright friend.
To link this poem directly to the theme of cares/troubles/duty examine the fifth stanza. This kind of lifestyle with lead us to 'scorn' cares as we are above them and have no cause to be troubled about anything and no matter what happens in our lives we are invulnerable to troubles as a result of the humility and humbleness that rules an upright life. There is also a clear indication where the guidelines for this type of life come from: 'He makes the heaven his book, His wisdom heavenly thing' is about as direct as you can address religion. Following the rules of God leads to no earthly or otherworldly worries.
Finally we return to the depressing element of this perfection. The 'only friends' of this man are his morally wonderful thoughts and his wealth and success is achieved only through smug self-satisfaction at being so sodding good all the time.
I'm actually quite angry about this presentation of being upright; it seems bereft of any joy or contact with any other person. Why bother living your life just for the after life.
This poem sings the praises of a life without worries and troubles and contrasts the life of a prince (who has to worry about all his people, his land, his palaces, his wealth) and a beggar (who has nothing at all).
Cares or lack of cares. Duty vs. being carefree/unburden.
First, let's deal with the title.
'A Mind Content' means a mind that is at ease, relaxed and happy. The state of being content suggests pure satisfaction, needing nothing and not wanting to change a thing.
The opening stanza explores the difference between the mind of a prince and a beggar. Being unburdened with problems is likened to wealth and power, but is associated with the lives of poor people rather than lords or royalty. The poor 'scorn fortune's angry frown' implies that the less well off mock the wealthy because fortune and power bring anxiety and worries about maintaining and growing wealth and power.
In the second, he tells us all about the contented lifestyle with a simple home, simple interests (country music); this is the type of life one might accuse of being boring and unremarkable and yet Greene calls it a 'type of bliss'.
The final line is very powerful. Being untroubled is 'both crown and kingdom'; so it's a hugely important aspect of life, more important than wealth ('kingdom') and power ('crown'). Lovely!
This poem is about someone having to hide their true emotions, as Queen Elizabeth hides her unhappiness at being unable to marry a potential suitor. However, can also be perceived to be more generally about someone in a role of great responsibility having to act and behave in a manner contrary to their own heart.
This poem deals with regret, duty and forlorn love. She regrets that she is not able to pursue her personal desires as a result of her commitment to her duties as a leader and as a result she never gets a chance to truly love.
The opening stanza begins with huge contrasts between her internal emotions and her public display. She 'grieves' and 'loves', but is forced to show her subjects that she is not upset even feels 'forced to seem to hate'. She feels she has to react this way to please her subjects. Elizabeth is clearly struggling with these two personas she has to maintain: her private feelings and how she must present herself as a Queen. 'I am and not' maybe suggests she feels like she is her own person, but also is never allowed to be because of her duty.
Now we move on to her constant grief and suffering. Her 'care' could be interpreted two ways: first, it may refer to her worries and sadness and is personified as a relentless stalker, 'my shadow', that 'stands and lies' with her at all times, but at no time can she address it as it 'flies when [she] pursue[s] it'.
It could also be used to mean her carefulness or duty over her kingdom. In this interpretation, the 'shadow' comparison means that her duty is inescapable and follows her in all aspects of her life.
With either understanding, the final couplet of the stanza leaves us with a clear idea of how upset she is as she is unable to 'rid him from [her] breast' and the only way she will be free is at 'the end of things' or when she dies.
In the final stanza she wishes that she could feel less emotionally. 'Gentler passion' suggests she wants less intense feelings of regret or passion and her self comparison to 'melting snow' demonstrates she gets hurt easily. Lines 3-4 of this stanza are amazing; she wants love to 'be more cruel' to 'be kind' because if she never felt love or mutual affection she wouldn't have to deal with the crushing pain when it was not realised and then 'Let me... float or sink, be high or low' is a wonderfully prosaic way of begging for one thing or the other: let me experience love (float/high) or not (sink/low), rather than having hope of romance and love only for it to be dashed and crush her.
She even goes so far as to wish for either life and love or for death so she can 'forget what love ere meant' suggesting she'd rather die now than face a lifetime of never realising the happiness of love.
This is about obsessive lover who wants nothing other than the object of this poem's lamentation. However, probably advisably, this girl is having nothing to do with him.
Unrequited love, obsession, mortality and nature.
The whole poem is about the object of his affection not returning it, but it doesn't seem to have discourage the lover. There are links to mortality with this girl able to preserve the beauty of his wreath and the wreath links us to nature.
The first stanza starts with some Hollywood teenager romance movie imagery. Our poetic voice is at the same party as this girl and is willing her to return his loving gaze. The opening line is him pleading for her to look at him with affection in her eyes and he is only waiting for this encouragement before he is willing to 'pledge' his life to her. Next he hope for a residual kiss from her cup, which will be enough to intoxicate him: forget the wine ('I'll not look for wine').
Sometimes poetry is just beautifully expressive; the opening line of stanza 2 is a world beater and you have to comment on it. 'The thirst that from the soul doth rise' extends the idea of the wine and the cup from the first stanza, but expresses his desires and urges as a physical need that we can all relate to. However, rather than just having a dry throat, his soul (something which makes us who we are) aches for this girl. His desire to have this thirst satisfied means he claims he'd rather drink his love than the supreme god, Jove. All a little odd, but he is positioning his love as being more important than a god or more remarkable to him.
The next two stanzas move away from the girl as a drink analogy. Now he is talking about a wreath (an assortment of flowers) and we again see some suggestion that this girl is heavenly. He has sent a rose in order to preserve its beauty, believing 'It could not be withered'. The poetic voice is suggesting that this girl is somehow heavenly, divine and therefore not subject to the same mortality as the flowers and thus can prolong their existence.
Unfortunately for our lover, she sends the wreath back. leads him to see the rose as being an extension of her and a constant reminder of his feelings.
Language and techniques
Use of nature to exemplify the qualities of the deceased.
The comparison between 'bones' and 'coral' is literal, in terms of hardness and texture (there is a bone crafting treatment where they use pieces of coral apparently). However, we should also see this as his body returning to the earth where it started, 'dust to dust' and all that, but being magnified and celebrated through comparison to one of the ocean's real beauties and wonders. A coral reef is a really spectacular show of colour and life and serves as a natural city to sea life.
This continues with his 'eyes' compared to 'pearls' clearly as a result of their similar pure white nature, but also the comparison elevates the deceased as he is once again a beauty and a treasure of the ocean depths.
The fact that we are seeing the positive in this death are clear from the fourth line: 'nothing doth fade'. We are not to think of him as being gone and forgotten, but his beauty and worth will remain with us and be recognised in the natural beauty of the world. Although he is now different or 'strange' to us, crucially he is no less 'rich' to our mind and memory now he is dead.
The final three lines present a image of nymphs at sea honouring the dead with the funereal bell. Obviously this is not actually happening (although it could have in The Tempest as there is a lot of magic and mythology within the play), but it is as if the beauty of the sea is celebrating or mourning the passing of a worthy soul. A nymph, in case your wondering, is a female spirit associated with great beauty so again there interest elevates our deceased. A sea-nymph would probably best be compared to a siren, which were mythical ladies of the sea who would tempt sailors to their deaths with their beautiful song. Here, it is as if these sirens are actually using their song to recognise our deceased. The fact they ring 'hourly' suggests the deep significance and importance of this man once more.
See it as her asking for her audience to enjoy and value her poetry, but if not then not to be too disparaging as it is her life's work. However, I prefer my interpretation below, which also helps it tie in more closely with the other poems in the collection. You might see some of my ideas are a bit tenuous, but I think it's a plausible idea and more useful for you to provide links between this poem and others, but the obvious interpretation above doesn't take much digging or altering of my ideas if truth be told and would be a suitable comparison for a question focused on the use of nature.
I see this poem as using nature to again represent human emotion. The flowers being given represent the poetic voice's heart and love, but there is a calm plea to treat the flowers with respect and not damage them if they are not to the receiver's fancy. She's acknowledges that sometimes people don't reciprocate feelings, but there is no need to break another's heart by scorning their affections.
This one is about love, but less of the dramatic than we are used to in this collection. She gives the flowers as a representation of her love and herself, but request the receiver to treat them kindly even if they do not reciprocate her emotions.
It feels like this poem is addressed to us, with the opening line 'Good reader' and it being stationed at the end of our collection; however, it is really for a lover. This lover has 'tasted' and 'smelt' all her flowers meaning that he knows her and what she has to offer
She explains that she has worked hard and struggled to offer him these flowers, which I take to mean that she has taken a long time to get him to notice her and build up the courage to express her true feelings. Then she requests that he be gentle with the flowers and respect them, but what she really means is that she doesn't want him to break her heart by being unkind towards her or about her adoration of him. Her choice of vocabulary here is really expressive, but we'll deal with that below.
Anyway, it is almost as if she doubts her affections will be returned and she is not fully committing herself to this lover as she knows it may not work out; you could say she is not fully exposing her heart and taking a full leap of faith which saying 'I love you' usually is. She wants her heart left intact so she can love again, if this doesn't work out. She continues justifying his potential rejection of her affection by saying that she will 'no whit be discontent' - in other words, upset - if he turns her down because there is nothing or nobody that can be attractive to everyone, as we all have different tastes and ideas about what makes a flower beautiful or a woman 'pure'. Lines 11-12 express this as a certainty that no one appeals to or is attractive everyone.
You can read this poem either as being really sensible and rational in its approach to love or as being bitterly sad. The first interpretation would rely on you seeing the poetic voice as really meaning what is being said, that she will be able to move on and not fully exposing her heart to the height of pain that love can cause (ask Lady Mary Wroth) - this attitude might be a reflection of the lower status of Whitney as she may not have been exposed to the same levels of romanticism as the idle upper classes.
Alternatively we can see a girl so lacking of confidence that she cannot believe that her love would reciprocate her feelings and trying desperately to hide the extend that any rejection would damage her.
She continues with more confidence as she contemplates what would happen if her feelings are reciprocated and are able to be realised without offending others, especially given how unorthodox it was at the time for a woman to be the romantic pursuer. As the poem concludes she is almost contradictory by wondering about actually having someone value the flowers/love/poetry she has made rather than just pity her as she thinks it 'worn be for my sake' that they praise the beauty of her work.