Lit – Poems
What Thing Is Love? (George Peele)
George Peele was an English dramatist, born in 1556. He led a reckless life and died of small pox. The poem ‘What thing is love’ was written in 1580’s and is in some ways against love. According to him love is more of a sting then hurt but yet a pretty thing. He says that one should not love as women can hurt you with love – Love’s dwelling is in ladies’ eyes, From whence do glance love’s piercing darts (Cupid’s arrows i.e. Roman God of love), That make such holes into our hearts. It is a prick, it is a sting, it is a pretty, pretty thing; It is a fire, it is a coal, Whose flame creeps in at every hole. Peele compared to Thomas Nashe and Christopher Marlowe
The Flee From Me, That Sometime Did Me Seek (Sir Thomas Wyatt) Sir Thomas Wyatt expresses that the girls who earlier used to be attracted to him are now all leaving him. He remembers the good times which have gone. He first thought it was a dream but it was the hard truth. In the end it seems as if he is accepting that his ficklessnes (newfangleness) is one cause of this. “But since that I so kindly am served, I fain would know what she hath deserved. “Has used animalist imagery; describes the past women in his life as wild. “I have seen them, gentle, tame, and meek, That now are wild, and do not remember That sometime they put themselves in danger To take bread at my hand;”
Sonnet 61 (Michael Drayton)
This is a petrarchan sonnet (Male POV) with an Iambic Pentameter (5 feet – stressed/unstressed syllable in each line) with metric shifts (Change in gender????). Michael Drayton wrote this when the girl he loved – Annie, married Henry Rainford and did not even tell him. He is confused as different emotions whirl inside him. He did not want their relationship to end, but now feels they must go separate ways. “Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part;” “Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, And when we meet at any time again, Be it not seen in either of our brows That we one jot of former love retain.” He also thinks that Love, passion, faith and innocence must die with the relationship. (SEE – Last six lines). The poem – ‘Dramatises the conflicting emotions that arise from an intimate relationship coming to an abrupt end.” Written The Night Before His Execution (Chidiock Tichbourne) Chidiock Tichbourne was executed when he was 28 for plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth (High Treason). This poem follows the rhyme scheme ABABCC. Tichbourne says that his prime of youth “is but a frost of cares”, he has so many worried. ‘I have lived but not seen every sun (glory) – “My life is fled, and yet I saw no sun”. I am living but my life is over – “And now I live, and now my life is done”. We know that he has not fallen in love by the lines “The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green”. He has used biological imagery. He further adds “I saw the world, and yet u was not seen” meaning that ‘I feel old because I am dying tomorrow. There is also a reference to Greek mythology i.e. the Three Fates and the thread of life. “My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun”. There is a repetition of “And now I live, and now my life is done” at the end of each of the three verses. He admits that he is dying by his own doing “I sought my death, and found it in my womb”. This is a self centred poem as most of the lines start with I or My. A Litany In Time Of Plague (Thomas Nashe)
Litany – Long Prayer. The great plague of 1348 (The Black Death) was a pandemic that killed approximately 30% - 40% of Europe’s population, reducing the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as having created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. Thomas Nashe wrote this poem after he was infected. This time was a time of lots of literary work. Nashe says that “Fond are life’s lustful joys; Death proves them all...
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