Thomas More

Start Free Trial

For my diploma paper, I must translate into Russian the poem "Did Not" by Thomas Moore, and I need some word-for-word explanation.  Did NotBy Thomas Moore'Twas a new feeling - something moreThan we had dared to own before,Which then we hid not;We saw it in each other's eye,And wished, in every half-breathed sigh,To speak, but did not.She felt my lips' impassioned touch -'Twas the first time I dared so much,And yet she chid not;But whispered o'er my burning brow,'Oh, do you doubt I love you now?'Sweet soul! I did not.Warmly I felt her bosom thrill,I pressed it closer, closer still,Though gently bid not;Till - oh! the world hath seldom heardOf lovers, who so nearly erred,And yet, who did not.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a charmingly pretty English lyric poem with an aabccb rhyme scheme about moral behavior (though in some cultures a first kiss and close embrace before a marriage is immoral). There is a twist in the circumstances pertaining to "did not." While in the first two stanzas, the utterance of "did not" leads to further actions, the utterance of "did not" in the final stanza leads to full cessation of action. Understanding this language of the poem requires knowing a syntactical element that has fallen out of contemporary Standard English usage.

"Did not" is familiar syntax in which the auxiliary verb did is negated by a post-positioned adverb not. However, what is no longer familiar in Standard English is the same word order applied to verbs that are not auxiliaries or modals, which include could, should, would, will, have, etc. These, like did, are negated with a post-positioned adverb not. Other verbs, for example sing and gallop, are negated by a pre-positioned not that follows a modal: Rashid will not sing tonight. The  yearling must not gallop today.

In Moore's three stanza sestet (six lines) lyric poem--written in basic though varying tetrameter with catalexis--part of the challenge is to understand the negation of non-modal verbs having the negator in a post-position as in hid not, chid not, bid not. Interestingly, this word order eliminates the need for a preceding modal: she bid not. Having brought this to light, it is probably quite simple now to follow the negation in these lines. Below is a line-by-line, word-for-word paraphrase of the poem.

'Twas a new feeling - something more
We shared a new emotion that was more
Than we had dared to own before,
Than we ever before dared to acknowledge,
Which then we hid not;
But now we did not hide it;
We saw it in each other's eye,
We saw the emotion in each other's eyes,
And wished, in every half-breathed sigh,
And we wished, with every stifled sigh,
To speak, but did not.
To speak of this emotion, but did not speak.

She felt my lips' impassioned touch -
She felt me kiss her -
'Twas the first time I dared so much,
It was the first time I had dared to do so,
And yet she chid not;
And yet she did not reject and scold me;
But whispered o'er my burning brow,
Instead, she whispered against my passion-heated brow,
'Oh, do you doubt I love you now?'
'Oh, do you in this moment doubt that I love you?'
Sweet soul! I did not.
Sweet soul that she is! I did not doubt her love.

Warmly I felt her bosom thrill,
Between our heated bodies, I felt her response,
I pressed it closer, closer still,
I held her tighter and tighter,
Though gently bid not;
Even though she gently asked that I not press her so tightly;
Till - oh! the world hath seldom heard
Until - Oh! the world has seldom heard
Of lovers, who so nearly erred,
Of two lovers who were so close to giving in to passion,
And yet, who did not.
And yet, did not give in to passion's urge.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team