How many syllables are in the word "Celia," as in "Song: To Celia" by Ben Jonson?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the wonderful things about poetry (and song lyrics, which are another version of poetry) is that the author as well as those who read the poem aloud (or sing the lyrics) have some freedom about matters just like this.

It is the meter of the poem which determines whether a three-syllable word should be pronounced as a two syllable word--or vice versa. If the poet needs three syllables to meet the metrical requirements of his line, then he wants it to be read as See-lee-a. If he only needs two syllables, then the poet prefers the word to be pronounced Seel-ya

Unfortunately, because the name "Celia" does not appear anywhere in Ben Jonson's "Song: To Celia" except for the title, it is a matter of choice because there is no meter involved. For what it is worth to you, I have always pronounced the name in this poem title with three syllables.
On a website for baby names (linked below), however, the pronunciation is given as two syllables:
Celia\ce-lia\ as a girl's name is pronounced SEEL-yah. It is of Latin origin, and the meaning of Celia is "heaven". From Caelia, feminine form of the old Roman family name Caelius, probably from "caelum" meaning "heaven". Sometimes also used as a short form of Cecilia.

Perhaps there is no definitive answer.