How do you explain and paraphrase Ben Jonson's "Song: To Celia"?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Here's a quick mixture of paraphrase and interpretation of Jonson's "Song:  To Celia" to help you understand it.

  • Drink only to me with your eyes, or Drink to me with only your eyes (metaphor:  dedicate yourself only to me with your eyes, or with your eyes give a toast to me)
  • I'll pledge myself to you with my eyes/loving look, glance/stare
  • Or leave a kiss in the cup (the wine cup) and I'll be satisfied--I won't look for wine
  • The thirst that arises from one's soul needs a divine drink, but I would not exchange the nectar of the god's for a drink from you.

The second stanza:

  • I sent you some roses, not so much to honor you but that, by being in your presence, the roses might not rot
  • But you only smelled the roses and returned them; but since you returned them, I swear, they smell like you, not like roses.

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