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This song is Jonson’s most famous because of the well-known music to which it is sung. Those readers who have sung both stanzas, however, may be unaware of the wit and complexity of Jonson’s handling of the dramatic situation. The speaker is a young swain who demonstrates great wit because he shows the capacity for merging compliment with irony. He also shows a working familiarity with ancient mythology, and we may therefore conclude that his level of education is high. Before the poem the situation was this: The speaker had sent the lady a “rosy wreath” (line 9), which she sent back to him (line 14) in apparent rejection of his offer of love. He has decided to try again, and hence he is writing the poem to make the lady really take notice of him.
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