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This 14 lined sonnet features an alternating rhyme scheme. Every other line rhymes with one another. For example, lines 1 and 3 rhyme (“part” and “heart”) while lines 2 and 4 also rhyme (“me” and “free”). This is continued until the closing couplet that rhymes with another (“over” and “decover”.) The surface meaning of the poem consists of two people embroiled in an argument. We get the impression that this has happened before (“Since there’s no help” might indicate to us that the couple have had fights in the past and experienced resolution.) Until line 8, we see that the couple is content with the fight’s resolution of separation. Images such as “shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows” or “I myself can free” or “That we one jot of former love retain” speaks to the resolved nature of separation that is present. The tone in this part of the poem is confident in its nature that parting ways is the only solution for this particular conflict. The second six lines feature a change in the narrative tone as the speaker fast forwards to a moment of dying. In this vision, there is a belief that they have resolved all of their problems and at death’s door they are together. The speaker has made the assumption that a life without the other is a scary proposition, especially when set against the looming reality of death. The closing couplet stresses that being with someone whom one loves is a comfort when having to confront issues such as death. The symbolic meaning stresses that while there are conflicts in relationships and challenges in daily life, there should be a clear understanding that solving and working together towards agreement should be the critical goal of all relationships. While conflicts are inevitable, one should not wage stake so much in these battles to undermine the relationship. The theme of the poem stresses the need to not let small conflicts challenge the premise of a working relationship. Companionship is of critical importance when navigating the larger issues of existence, such as death. The mood is one of reflection, as it points out the challenges in all relationships, but also stresses how essential it is to strive to resolve these differences. The appreciation of the poem lies in whether or not one believes that all issues can be worked out in a productive and peaceful manner while maintaining the relationship. For example, we really don’t know why the couple is fighting. If they are fighting because of something rather trivial, such as leaving the television on or losing a mobile phone, this might be something that can be resolved without breaking up the relationship. However, they might be fighting for something significant, such as lack of faithfulness, cruelty or abuse towards the other, or mistreatment. The appreciation of the poem lies in what the reader would deem as “trivial” challenges in relationship or “significant” conflicts in an association.
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