Drayton 61 Structure

Topics: Grammatical mood, Subjunctive mood, Imperative mood Pages: 7 (2344 words) Published: March 24, 2014
On Structure: Michael Drayton’s Sonnet “Since There’s No Help” (Idea 61)

There are many different ways to approach the structure of a poem, a piece of fiction, a play. In what follows I’m going to make some suggestions about the structure of Michael Drayton’s poem beginning “Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part,” a sonnet from his collection titled Idea, first published in 1593. It’s important for you to understand that there are many valuable and illuminating ways to talk about this poem’s structure, not any one, single, right way. That’s why I’m writing suggestions, not prescriptions.

When I say “the structure” of Drayton’s poem, I mean not only how it’s put together but also the way it works. Learning how something is put together shows us what the parts are. Learning how those “put-together” parts work shows us the thing in action. And a short lyric poem like Drayton’s (any work of literature that we’re reading, for that matter) is a thing in action, a dynamic process.

Here is Drayton’s poem.

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part;
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart
That thus so cleanly I myself can free;4
Shake hands forever, 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 love retain.8
Now at the last gasp of love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, passion speechless lies,
When faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And innocence is closing up his eyes, 12
Now if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou mightst him yet recover.

Well, what are the parts of this poem? Words in lines. Specifically, words in lines which usually add up to ten syllables each. Words put together so that they make a rhythm as we say them, a sort of di-da di-da di-da di-da di-da rhythm, with emphasis usually on the “da” syllable, like this:

And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart

or this:

And when we meet at any time again.

And the poem is made up of lines whose end words rhyme (that is, chime together) in a certain pattern throughout the poem, like this:

part / me / heart / free(abab)lines 1-4
vows /again / brows / retain (cdcd)lines 5-8
breath / lies / death / eyes (efef)lines 9-12
over / recover(gg)lines 13-14

This pattern creates groups of lines (they have technical English-teacher terms), which go together because their end-word rhymes link them together:

lines 1-4=first quatrain
lines 5-8=second quatrain
lines 9-12=third quatrain
lines 13-14=final couplet

The words in this poem are also organized grammatically, in several ways:

sentences--the first (a cumulative sentence—check out the term in a handbook or do a Google search) consisting of the poem’s first and second quatrains and the second (a periodic sentence) consisting of the third quatrain and the final couplet;

clauses--a bunch; notice, for example, the first line of the poem--

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part—

a subordinate clause followed by a main clause in a combination showing a cause-and-effect relationship;

verbs—significant mood shifts within the poem (another technical English-teacher term—verbs come in “moods,” namely the indicative, subjunctive, or imperative, which, if you can’t recognize, you’d better get a grammar/composition handbook), with the imperative and indicative dominating the first eight lines and the indicative and subjunctive the last six (note especially “wouldst” and “mightst” in ll. 13-14);

subjects—all personal pronouns in the first eight lines (“us,” “I,” “you,” “we”), nouns in the next four (“passion,” “faith,” “innocence”), and a return to pronouns in the final couplet (“thou,” “all”);

adverbs expressing time—“when” X 4, “Now” X 2, “again,” and “yet”;

adjectives—there are very few: why???...
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