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What is the inferred meaning of Ben Jonson's "Song to Celia" (poem inside)?Drink to me...

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utadafreak22 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 10, 2010 at 7:33 AM via web

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What is the inferred meaning of Ben Jonson's "Song to Celia" (poem inside)?

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine:
Or leave a kiss within the cup,
And I'll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine:
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon did'st only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:52 AM (Answer #1)

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There are a number of meanings that you can infer from the words of this poem.  In some ways, inferred meanings are in the opinion of the reader -- that's why they are inferred.

You can infer, for example, from the first four lines that the speaker and the object of the poem have some deep bond.  The speaker is implying that the two of them can talk to each other with their eyes.  This is something that only happens between people who have a pretty intimate relationship.

On the other hand, you can infer from the last 8 lines that the object of the poem does not actually love the speaker.  You can infer that she sent back the roses that he gave her and all she did was breathe on them.  Why would she send them back if she loved him?

So there are many things you can infer from this poem, depending on how you want to read it.

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