Please make an analysis of "Song: to Celia" by Ben Jonson. 

1 Answer | Add Yours

amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"Song: To Celia" is divided into two stanzas, each containing eight lines. The poem is tightly structured but it does vary in terms of metrical feet (stressed and unstressed syllable patterns). For example, in the line, "Or leave a kiss but in the cup," the pattern is imabic tetrameter. Other lines in the poem exhibit different patterns. However, the poem still has a fluid prosody. And this is important because this fluidity formally connects the metaphors of love. 

The speaker begins by asking his beloved to drink to him (cheers) with her eyes. Then, he will do the same in return. He offers her an alternative (metaphor). If she feels this is too forward, he asks her to leave a kiss in a cup and he will drink it. The speaker establishes his love by speaking in metaphorical terms of drinking. The toast (cheers, drinking to each other) is a pledge of love. The drink, as the kiss in the cup, can be interpreted as a metaphor for actual physical connection. The kiss can also be Celia's beauty or her love for the speaker.

The speaker, from the depths of his soul, asks her for her love; he compares it to a divine drink (staying with the metaphor of a drink as love). He ends the first stanza by saying that he would not trade her drink/love for the drink of the gods (nectar). The undercurrent association with the drink/love metaphor is that alcohol intoxicates; the speaker is, or wishes to be, intoxicated with her love. 

In the second stanza, the speaker notes she is wearing a wreath, presumably one he has given her. He says the wreath was not given to honor her; the hope is that, next to her, the wreath will never wither. The speaker suggests that her mere presence or her breath will give life to the wreath (as she does for him). If she sends it back to him, he will not smell the roses of the wreath, he will smell the power she has breathed into it. 

In addition to the rhyme scheme, which is aaba aaba, Jonson uses alliteration and assonance (repetition of vowel sounds) to more fluidly connect the images and metaphors. In the first stanza, "thine eyes," "drink divine" and "thine" all refer to the speaker's beloved. Note the alliteration of "th" and "d" in these two lines: 

The thirst that from the soul doth rise

Doth ask a drink divine; 

The poem starts with addressing the woman's eyes but shifts to her mouth because the metaphors revolve around notions of drinking, kissing, and breathing: intoxication, love, and life. The repetition of vowel and consonant sounds help to structurally and audibly connect these metaphors. 

 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question