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The departure is the occasion for the meditation that comprises the poem, which is a personal consideration of the speaker’s relationship with the departing man. Ordinarily, the poem implies, a departure (usually for a long period of time) gives those left behind the publicly sanctioned opportunity for sorrow and grief. That privilege, which is given to ordinary persons as a matter of right, is not given to the speaker, whose position denies her the customary sadness of a departure. Thus she begins the poem, “I grieve and dare not show my discontent,” and continues to discuss these antithetic circumstances throughout the poem. It is clear that the royal speaker is obligated to hide her feelings because of her elevated political status, which she considers a condition of life which only the “end of things” (line 12) and death (line 18) can ever stop. Ironically, because of obvious political dangers involved in revealing her feelings publicly, the speaker’s supreme royal power weakens her in matters of the heart.
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