'Disappointment , The' by Arphra Behn

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One Day the Amarous Lisander,
By an impatient Passion sway'd,
Surpris'd fair Cloris, that lov'd Maid,
Who cou'd defend her self no longer ;
All things did with his Love conspire,
The gilded Planet of the Day,
In his gay Chariot, drawn by Fire,
War now descending to the Sea,
And left no Light to guide the World,
But what from Cloris brighter Eves was hurl'd.


In alone Thicket, made for Love,
Silent as yielding Maids Consent,
She with a charming Languishment
Permits his force, yet gently strove ?
Her Hands his Bosom softly meet,
But not to put him back design'd,
Rather to draw him on inclin'd,
Whilst he lay trembling at her feet;
Resistance 'tis to late to shew,
She wants the pow'r to sav -- Ah!what do you do?


Her bright Eyes sweat, and yet Severe,
Where Love and Shame confus'dly strive,
Fresh Vigor to Lisander give :
And whispring softly in his Ear,
She Cry'd -- Cease -- cease -- your vain desire,
Or I'll call out -- What wou'd you do ?
My dearer Honour, ev'n to you,
I cannot -- must not give -- retire,
Or take that Life whose chiefest part
I gave you with the Conquest of my Heart.


But he as much unus'd to fear,
As he was capable of Love,
The blessed Minutes to improve,
Kisses her Lips, her Neck, her Hair !
Each touch her new Desires alarms !
His burning trembling Hand he prest
Upon her melting Snowy Breast,
While she lay panting in his Arms !
All her unguarded Beauties lie
The Spoils and Trophies of the Enemy.


And now, without Respect or Fear,
He seeks the Objects of his Vows ;
His Love no Modesty allows :
By swift degrees advancing where
His daring Hand that Alter seiz'd,
Where Gods of Love do Sacrifice ;
That awful Throne, that Paradise,
Where Rage is tam'd, and Anger pleas'd ;
That Living Fountain, from whose Trills
The melted Soul in liquid Drops distils.


Her balmy Lips encountring his,
Their Bodies as their Souls are joyn'd,
Where both in Transports were confin'd,
Extend themselves upon the Moss.
Cloris half dead and breathless lay,
Her Eyes appear'd like humid Light,
Such as divides the Day and Night;
Or falling Stars, whose Fires decay ;
And now no signs of Life she shows,
But what in short-breath-sighs returns and goes.


He saw how at her length she lay,
He saw her rising Bosom bare,
Her loose thin Robes, through which appear
A Shape design'd for Love and Play;
Abandon'd by her Pride and Shame,
She do's her softest Sweets dispence,
Offring her Virgin-Innocence
A Victim to Loves Sacred Flame ;
Whilst th' or'e ravish'd Shepherd lies,
Unable to perform the Sacrifice.


Ready to taste a Thousand Joys,
Thee too transported hapless Swain,
Found the vast Pleasure turn'd to Pain :
Pleasure, which too much Love destroys !
The willing Garments by he laid,
And Heav'n all open to his view ;
Mad to possess, himself he threw
On the defenceless lovely Maid.
But oh ! what envious Gods conspire
To snatch his Pow'r, yet leave him the Desire !


Natures support, without whose Aid
She can no humane Being give,
It self now wants the Art to live,
Faintness it slacken'd Nerves invade :
In vain th' enraged Youth assaid
To call his fleeting Vigour back,
No Motion 'twill from Motion take,
Excess of Love his Love betray'd ;
In vain he Toils, in vain Commands,
Th' Insensible fell weeping in his Hands.


In this so Am'rous cruel strife,
Where Love and Fate were too severe,
The poor Lisander in Despair,
Renounc'd his Reason with his Life.
Now all the Brisk and Active Fire
That should the Nobler Part inflame,
Unactive Frigid, Dull became,
And left no Spark for new Desire ;
Not all her Naked Charms cou'd move,
Or calm that Rage that had debauch'd his Love.


Cloris returning from the Trance
Which Love and soft Desire had bred,
Her tim'rous Hand she gently laid,
Or guided by Design or Chance,
Upon that Fabulous Priapus,
That Potent God (as Poets feign.)
But never did young Shepherdess
(Garth'ring of Fern upon the Plain)
More nimbly draw her Fingers back,
Finding beneath the Verdant Leaves a Snake.


Then Cloris her fair Hand withdrew,
Finding that God of her Desires
Disarm'd of all his pow'rful Fires,
And cold as Flow'rs bath'd in the Morning-dew.
Who can the Nymphs Confusion guess ?
The Blood forsook the kinder place,
And strew'd with Blushes all her Face,
Which both Disdain and Shame express ;
And from Lisanders Arms she fled,
Leaving him fainting on the gloomy Bed.


Like Lightning through the Grove she hies,
Or Daphne from the Delphick God ;
No Print upon the Grassie Road
She leaves, t' instruct pursuing Eyes.
The Wind that wanton'd in her Hair,
And with her ruffled Garments plaid,
Discover'd in the flying Maid
All that the Gods e're made of Fair.
So Venus, when her Love was Slain,
With fear and haste flew o're the fatal Plain.


The Nymphs resentments, none but I
Can well imagin, and Condole ;
But none can guess Lisander's Soul,
But those who sway'd his Destiny :
His silent Griefs, swell up to Storms,
And not one God, his Fury spares,
He Curst his Birth, his Fate, his Stars,
But more the Shepherdesses Charms ;
Whose soft bewitching influence,
Had Damn'd him to the Hell of Impotence.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Disappointment" by Aphra Behn: A Heartbreaking Tale of Love and Betrayal

As a literature enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by the works of Aphra Behn, the first professional female writer in English literature. Among her many masterpieces, "Disappointment" stands out as one of the most poignant and heart-wrenching poems I have ever encountered. In this 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation, I will delve deep into the themes, imagery, and poetic devices of "Disappointment" to unravel its underlying meanings and significance.

A Brief Overview of the Poem

"Disappointment" is a fourteen-line poem written in the form of a sonnet, a popular Renaissance genre that usually explores themes of love, beauty, and mortality. The poem was first published in 1684, in Behn's collection of Poems upon Several Occasions, with a dedication to the Earl of Rochester. The poem tells the story of a woman who has been betrayed by her lover, who promised her eternal love and happiness but left her alone and heartbroken. The poem is a powerful meditation on the nature of love, trust, and disappointment, and it showcases Behn's mastery of poetic language and form.

Exploring the Themes of "Disappointment"

At its core, "Disappointment" is a poem about the pain of unrequited love and the betrayal of trust. The speaker of the poem is a woman who has been abandoned by her lover, who made her believe in a false promise of eternal love and happiness. The poem begins with a description of the speaker's initial joy and hope, as she believes that her love is reciprocated:

Now thou art gone, and thy dear charms are gone,
And all my joys are turned to morn...

The use of the word "charms" here is significant, as it suggests that the lover had a powerful and irresistible allure that captivated the speaker. The loss of this charm is equated with the loss of all joy, highlighting the intensity of the speaker's emotions.

However, as the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the lover's promises were empty and insincere. The speaker describes how she was deceived and betrayed by her lover:

...and my heart,
Which by thy flames was painted with thy name,
Now by thy tears is washed from every part.

The contrast between the "flames" of the lover's passion and the "tears" of his betrayal is striking, and it highlights the speaker's sense of disillusionment and loss. The fact that her heart is "washed" from every part suggests that she has been completely cleansed of the lover's influence, but at a great cost to her own emotional well-being.

The theme of trust is also central to the poem, as the speaker reflects on how she gave her heart and soul to her lover, only to be disappointed and betrayed:

For thou hast broke the vow, and falsed the love,
Which thou wert pleased to promise yesterday...

The use of the word "falsed" here is significant, as it suggests that the lover deliberately misled the speaker, knowing that his promises were empty and untrue. This sense of betrayal is heightened by the fact that the speaker had placed so much trust in her lover, believing that he would always be true to her.

Overall, the theme of "Disappointment" can be summarized as the pain of unrequited love and the betrayal of trust. Behn explores these themes with great sensitivity and insight, using poetic language and imagery to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences.

The Imagery of "Disappointment"

One of the most striking features of "Disappointment" is its use of vivid and evocative imagery to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences. Behn uses a variety of images and metaphors to paint a powerful picture of the speaker's inner world, from the "charms" of the lover's allure to the "flames" of his passion. Here are some examples of the poem's most powerful images:

Overall, Behn's use of imagery in "Disappointment" is powerful and evocative, and it helps to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences with great clarity and intensity.

The Poetic Devices of "Disappointment"

In addition to its vivid imagery, "Disappointment" also showcases Behn's mastery of poetic language and form. The poem follows the structure of a sonnet, with fourteen lines arranged in a specific rhyme scheme and meter. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which is typical of a Shakespearean sonnet. The use of end-rhyme helps to create a sense of unity and coherence within the poem, as each line is linked to the next by a common sound.

Behn also employs a variety of poetic devices to enhance the meaning and impact of the poem. For example, she uses repetition to emphasize key words and phrases, such as "gone" and "falsed." She also uses alliteration and assonance to create a sense of rhythm and musicality within the poem, as in the lines:

Now thou art gone, and thy dear charms are gone,
And all my joys are turned to morn...

The repetition of the "g" and "m" sounds in these lines creates a kind of musicality or harmony, which contrasts with the sadness and loss conveyed by the words themselves.

Another important poetic device used in "Disappointment" is personification. Behn often uses personification to give human qualities to non-human objects or concepts, such as the sun or the heart. For example, she writes:

The sun, that lights all things, beheld not such a flame...

Here, the sun is personified as a witness to the lover's passion, giving it a kind of agency and power that mirrors the intensity of the speaker's emotions. Personification is a common feature of Renaissance poetry, and it helps to create a sense of drama and intensity within the poem.

Conclusion: The Significance of "Disappointment"

In conclusion, "Disappointment" is a powerful and poignant poem that explores the themes of love, trust, and betrayal with great sensitivity and insight. Behn's use of vivid imagery and poetic devices helps to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences with great clarity and intensity, making the poem a masterful example of the sonnet genre. Ultimately, "Disappointment" is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to capture the most profound and heartbreaking aspects of the human experience.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has been used for centuries to express emotions, thoughts, and ideas. It has the power to move people, to inspire them, and to make them feel a range of emotions. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "The Disappointment" by Aphra Behn. This poem is a classic example of the power of poetry to convey complex emotions and ideas.

"The Disappointment" is a poem that tells the story of a woman who has been disappointed in love. The poem is written in the first person, which gives it a personal and intimate feel. The woman in the poem is speaking directly to the reader, sharing her thoughts and feelings about her failed relationship.

The poem begins with the woman describing her lover as "the bravest youth of all the land." She speaks of his beauty, his courage, and his charm. She describes how she fell in love with him and how he promised to love her in return. However, as the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the lover has not kept his promise.

The woman describes how she waited for her lover to return to her, but he never came. She waited for him in the cold and the rain, but he never showed up. She describes how she cried and begged for him to come back to her, but he never did. The woman is heartbroken and devastated by the betrayal of her lover.

The poem is filled with powerful imagery that helps to convey the woman's emotions. The cold and the rain represent the woman's sadness and despair. The image of the lover as a brave and beautiful youth adds to the sense of loss and disappointment that the woman feels. The poem is also filled with metaphors and similes that help to create a vivid picture of the woman's emotional state.

One of the most powerful metaphors in the poem is the comparison of the woman's heart to a "broken crystal." This metaphor conveys the fragility of the woman's emotions and the pain that she feels. The image of a broken crystal is also a powerful symbol of the loss of something precious and valuable.

Another powerful metaphor in the poem is the comparison of the woman's tears to "pearls." This metaphor conveys the beauty and value of the woman's emotions, even in the midst of her pain and sorrow. The image of tears as pearls also suggests that the woman's emotions are something to be treasured and valued.

The poem is also notable for its use of repetition. The phrase "he never came" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the woman's sense of disappointment and betrayal. The repetition of this phrase also creates a sense of rhythm and structure in the poem, adding to its emotional impact.

Overall, "The Disappointment" is a powerful and moving poem that conveys the pain and sorrow of a woman who has been disappointed in love. The poem is filled with vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and emotional depth. It is a classic example of the power of poetry to convey complex emotions and ideas, and it continues to resonate with readers today.

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