Ben Jonson Song to Celia

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Ben Jonson’s “Song: To Celia” can vary in interpretation depending on the reader. The interpretation of the poem can either be that of a man confessing his love to a woman who rejects him or that of a man in love with a woman who he has had a previous, unsuccessful relationship with. Jonson’s diction, rhyme scheme, rhythm, and symbolism make “Song: To Celia” an intriguing piece which requires the reader to read creatively. “Song: To Celia” has a consistent rhythm of alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme is ABCB, ABCB until a change in line nine to DEFE with one slant rhyme pair. The change in rhyme scheme from ABCB to DEFE represents a change in the tone of the poem while staying true to its sing-song nature. From lines one through eight, Jonson uses drinking and thirst as metaphors for love and desire. In the opening line when he says “drink to me, only with thine eyes,” Jonson is personifying Celia’s eyes and metaphorically suggesting that they are able to declare love. The recurring reference to wine and drinking implies that love is intoxicating and in line two, it is implied that a “pledge” similar to a toast can be made of love similarly to a promise. In line five, the speaker mentions the “thirst… from the soul” in reference to the speaker’s desire to live happily in love with Celia. The speaker even says that he will give up immortality presented to him in liquid form just to be with her. Line nine presents a change in the poem. The speaker’s love from line nine to the end of the poem is compared to a wreath. A wreath typically represents eternity with it’s round shape. The diction of this poem, however, suggests that the wreath represents rejection. The wreath is a gift that the speaker sent to Celia who returned it to him. In line fifteen, the wreath “grows and smells.” The growth of the wreath represents the growth of love inside the speaker only and the smell signifies the lingering of...
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