Analysis of Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount

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Rhythm exists in many aspects of our lives. Perhaps the commonality of rhythm comes from the fact that it exists within our natural processes: breathing and heartbeat. Other rhythmic activities that we perform every day that we do not consciously associate with rhythm include running and walking. Socially, most of all existing performing arts contain some sort of rhythm. For example, rhythmic speech, in the form of singing or poetry reading, is varied to convey different intentions. Most commonly, quick and upbeat rhythm is associated with joy while slow and downbeat rhythm is associated with sadness. Therefore, there is a critical relationship between rhythm and meaning. The poem “Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount” by Ben Jonson uses various poetic devices to convey a sense of woe and grief.

This poem details the story of Echo and Narcissus through the voice of Echo the nymph. After learning of Narcissus’s death, Echo speaks and shares her grief and sorrow with nature. Through this process, Echo grieves the death of her unrequited love and expresses her pain of loss through singing this poem. The irregularity of the meter within the poem, coinciding with the fact that Echo is sobbing while singing this poem, serves to highlight the process of Echo’s grieving. The first line consists mostly of spondees, which are groups of two stressed syllables. The following words are all stressed in the first line: slow, slow, fresh, fount, keep, time, salt and tears. These continuous spondees slow down the reader as he/she reads through the poem. This places an emphasis on each stressed word. In addition, the use of a pyrrhic, two continuous unstressed syllables, emphasizes the following spondee: salt tears. Line 10 also contains all spondees, meaning each “drop” is emphasized. However, starting from line two, the poem switches to the iambic pentameter, meaning each line contains five groups. Each group consists of an unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed syllable. For...
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