illustration of two faces, a man and a woman, staring at one another and connected by vines that meet together between them holding a glass of wine

Song: To Celia

by Ben Jonson
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How does the poet bring out the divine qualities of his lover in "Song: To Celia"?

In "Song: To Celia," the poet brings out the divine qualities of his lover by preferring drinking from her "divine" soul to drinking the nectar of the gods and by asserting that her breath is life giving.

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The speaker brings out the divine qualities he perceives in his beloved, first, by comparing her soul to the "nectar" of Jove or Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. The speaker says that the "drink" he wants to sip of hers is not her wine but a "drink divine"—in...

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The speaker brings out the divine qualities he perceives in his beloved, first, by comparing her soul to the "nectar" of Jove or Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. The speaker says that the "drink" he wants to sip of hers is not her wine but a "drink divine"—in other words, he wants to drink in a deep soul connection with her. In fact, he would rather be united with the divine soul of his beloved than sip Jove's nectar.

In the second stanza, the speaker suggests that his beloved's breath has a divine or life-giving quality. He says that he sent her a rosy wreath in the hope that it could not wither in her presence. And even though she returned it to him, she breathed on it. This means it "grows" and "smells" of her.

Jonson is using hyperbole or exaggeration to describe the divine power he wants to believe is part of his beloved. He is flattering her in depicting her soul and breath as divine, trying to woo her and gain her interest. He is also describing the way a rejected lover feels about a beloved that will not return the love expressed: such a person seems divine and unattainable, even though the lover's soul yearns for her.

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