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What is the tone in the poem "Song: To Celia"?

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renee0623 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 23, 2010 at 8:12 AM via web

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What is the tone in the poem "Song: To Celia"?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 23, 2010 at 9:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Ben Jonson's, "Song:  To Celia," is about a speaker in the early stage of love, the infatuation stage.  It is witty and epigrammatic, full of often-repeated, now-famous lines:

Drink to me only with thine eyes,...


...leave a kiss but in the cup,

And I'll not look for wine.

The poem closes with a role reversal.  The speaker sends his would-be lover flowers, but she sends them back, and he revels in smelling the flowers, detecting only her fragrance in the "rosy wreath," rather than the flowers themselves.

But the poem is not a carpe diem poem and is not facetious.  The speaker is serious.  He is infatuated.

Therefore, I suggest the tone of the poem--the speaker's attitude toward his subject--is one of serious infatuation.

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