'Song' by Sir John Suckling

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If you refuse me once, and think again,
I will complain.
You are deceiv'd, love is no work of art,
It must be got and born,
Not made and worn,
By every one that hath a heart.

Or do you think they more than once can die,
Whom you deny?
Who tell you of a thousand deaths a day,
Like the old poets feign
And tell the pain
They met, but in the common way?

Or do you think 't too soon to yield,
And quit the field?
Nor is that right, they yield that first entreat;
Once one may crave for love,
But more would prove
This heart too little, that too great.

Oh that I were all soul, that I might prove
For you as fit a love
As you are for an angel; for I know,
None but pure spirits are fit loves for you.

You are all ethereal; there's in you no dross,
Nor any part that's gross.
Your coarsest part is like a curious lawn,
The vestal relics for a covering drawn.

Your other parts, part of the purest fire
That e'er Heav'n did inspire,
Makes every thought that is refin'd by it
A quintessence of goodness and of wit.

Thus have your raptures reach'd to that degree
In love's philosophy,
That you can figure to yourself a fire
Void of all heat, a love without desire.

Nor in divinity do you go less;
You think, and you profess,
That souls may have a plenitude of joy,
Although their bodies meet not to employ.

But I must needs confess, I do not find
The motions of my mind
So purified as yet, but at the best
My body claims in them an interest.

I hold that perfect joy makes all our parts
As joyful as our hearts.
Our senses tell us, if we please not them,
Our love is but a dotage or a dream.

How shall we then agree? you may descend,
But will not, to my end.
I fain would tune my fancy to your key,
But cannot reach to that obstructed way.

There rests but this, that whilst we sorrow here,
Our bodies may draw near;
And, when no more their joys they can extend,
Then let our souls begin where they did end.

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Deeper Dive into Sir John Suckling’s “Song”

Have you ever read a poem or a song that leaves you feeling lighter, happier, and more carefree than before you started reading it? That’s exactly what Sir John Suckling’s “Song” does for me every time I read it.

At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple love song, with the speaker expressing his desire to be with his beloved. But as you dig deeper into the poem, you’ll start to see how Suckling’s use of language and imagery creates a vivid, lively world that invites the reader to let go of their worries and revel in the joy of the present moment.

The Poem at a Glance

Here’s the text of the poem in full:

“Why so pale and wan, fond lover? Prithee, why so pale? Will, when looking well can’t move her, Looking ill prevail? Prithee, why so pale?

Why so dull and mute, young sinner? Prithee, why so mute? Will, when speaking well can’t win her, Saying nothing do’t? Prithee, why so mute?

Quit, quit for shame, this will not move, This cannot take her; If of herself she will not love, Nothing can make her; The devil take her!”

The poem is structured as a series of questions addressed to an unnamed lover, with each stanza ending in the refrain “Prithee, why so [pale/mute]?” The speaker is essentially asking their beloved why they look so sad and why they aren’t speaking up to win the person they desire.

In the final stanza, the speaker gives up on trying to win over their beloved and tells them to “quit, quit for shame,” essentially saying that if the person doesn’t love them of their own accord, nothing can be done to change that.

The Joyful Language of “Song”

One of the things that I love about this poem is the way that Suckling plays with language to create an overall sense of joyful abandon. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, meaning that each line has four stressed syllables followed by four unstressed syllables. This gives the poem a bouncy, almost sing-song rhythm that perfectly matches the carefree tone of the speaker.

The use of repetition in the refrain “Prithee, why so [pale/mute]?” also adds to the playful feel of the poem. The word “prithee” is an archaic way of saying “please” or “I beg of you,” but it sounds more like a playful teasing than a serious plea. The repetition of the refrain also creates a sense of lightheartedness, as if the speaker is nudging their lover and saying, “Hey, why so sad? Lighten up!”

Suckling also uses vivid imagery throughout the poem to create a rich, sensory world. The phrase “pale and wan” in the opening line immediately brings to mind a person who is sickly or frail, while the word “mute” in the second stanza conjures up an image of someone who is tongue-tied or unable to speak. These vivid descriptions help bring the poem to life and make it feel like a real conversation between two people.

The Meaning Behind the Joy

While “Song” is certainly a fun, lighthearted poem, there’s also a deeper meaning lurking beneath the playful language and imagery. At its core, the poem is about the futility of trying to win someone’s love through external means.

The speaker asks their beloved why they look so sad and why they aren’t speaking up, but ultimately comes to the conclusion that if the person doesn’t love them of their own accord, there’s nothing they can do to change that. The final line, “The devil take her!” sounds harsh, but it’s really just the speaker coming to terms with the fact that they can’t force someone to love them.

In a way, the poem is a celebration of letting go of our need to control things and simply enjoying the present moment. The speaker is willing to give up on their pursuit of their beloved and let go of their frustration, which allows them to be free to enjoy life without worrying about what might happen next.

In Conclusion

Sir John Suckling’s “Song” might seem like a simple love song on the surface, but it’s so much more than that. Through its playful language, vivid imagery, and deeper meaning, the poem invites readers to let go of their worries and enjoy the present moment. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the best thing we can do is simply be present and enjoy the world around us, even if things don’t always go the way we want them to.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Song: A Masterpiece by Sir John Suckling

When it comes to poetry, there are few pieces that can match the brilliance of Sir John Suckling's Poetry Song. Written in the 17th century, this classic poem has stood the test of time and continues to captivate readers with its beautiful language and timeless themes.

At its core, Poetry Song is a celebration of the power of poetry. Suckling begins by declaring that "Poetry, thou sweet'st content, / That e'er Heaven to mortals lent," setting the tone for the rest of the poem. He goes on to describe the many ways in which poetry can bring joy and comfort to those who read it, from providing solace in times of sorrow to inspiring love and passion.

One of the most striking aspects of Poetry Song is the way in which Suckling uses language to convey his message. The poem is filled with vivid imagery and clever wordplay, making it a joy to read and analyze. For example, in the second stanza, Suckling writes:

"Thou art the truest friend we have; The friend that, in our ashes, shall By us be laid, and with us dwell."

Here, Suckling uses the metaphor of poetry as a friend to emphasize the deep connection that readers can feel with the words on the page. He also cleverly plays with the idea of poetry as a physical object, suggesting that it will be buried with us when we die.

Throughout the poem, Suckling also makes use of repetition and rhyme to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. This is particularly evident in the chorus, which reads:

"Poetry, thou sweet'st content, That e'er Heaven to mortals lent; Though they as a trifle leave thee, Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee, Though thou be to them a scorn That to nought but earth are born; Let my life no longer be Than I am in love with thee."

Here, Suckling repeats the phrase "Poetry, thou sweet'st content" several times, emphasizing the central theme of the poem. He also uses rhyme to create a sense of unity and coherence, with each line ending in a word that rhymes with "thee."

Another notable aspect of Poetry Song is the way in which Suckling addresses his audience directly. Throughout the poem, he uses the second person pronoun "thou" to speak directly to the reader, creating a sense of intimacy and connection. This is particularly effective in the final stanza, where Suckling writes:

"Then, while we live, in love let's so That, when the shades of death shall grow When these body's breath expires, Shall live our songs, and thy dear fires."

Here, Suckling urges the reader to embrace the power of poetry and to use it to create a lasting legacy. By addressing the reader directly, he creates a sense of urgency and importance, emphasizing the value of poetry in our lives.

In conclusion, Sir John Suckling's Poetry Song is a masterpiece of English poetry. Through its beautiful language, vivid imagery, and clever wordplay, it celebrates the power of poetry to bring joy, comfort, and inspiration to our lives. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply appreciate great literature, this classic poem is sure to captivate and inspire you.

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