What does the poem "Rosalind's Madrigal" mean?

Expert Answers
rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is a song from the Elizabethan play "Rosalind." In the song, the main character, Rosalind, a young woman, complains about love. She personifies love as a bee in most of the poem, but also as the god Cupid in the final stanza. During most of the poem, Rosalind complains about how love pesters her and won't leave her alone. In the first stanza, he (love) tickles her with his wings and feet; he gets in her eyes and robs her of sleep. The idea is that when you are in love, the thoughts and emotions of love seem to interfere with everything you do, like a bee that is buzzing around your body. 

The second stanza elaborates on how love interferes with Rosalind's sleep. When she says that he makes his pillow her knee, she means that he is right there when she is trying to sleep. In other words, when you are in love, you will be obsessed by thoughts of the person you love all night long. At the end of the second stanza, Rosalind says he (love) adds music to her song; love inspires her singing so that it becomes richer because she is in love. But there is a cruel, stinging aspect of love: If one's affections aren't returned, it's painful. That's why Rosalind says "Whist": to shoo away the pains of love.

Stanza three recounts Rosalind's proposed ways of reining in and controlling love's effects over her. But at the end of that stanza she begins to reconsider whether she really wants to get rid of love after all.

In the final stanza, Rosalind becomes resigned to love. She knows that she cannot beat down the "boy," Cupid, because he is a god, after all. She agrees to give love full access to her knee, her bosom, and her eyes. In the end, she actually implores love to not stop pestering her, but to keep playing with her. 

Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem "Rosalind's Madrigal", by Thomas Lodge is a four stanza work that talks about being enveloped in love, or being stung by the sweet, and sometimes bittersweet sting of love.

The poet talks of love as taking hold of him - as if a bee has settled in his bosom:

Love in my bosom like a bee,

 Doth suck his sweet;

The poet indicates that love for someone has overtaken him and that it causes him to even lose sleep at night. In essence, the poet is saying that love controls his thoughts and actions day and night. The power of love is hard to resist even though choosing to love - to take a chance on love - can also be painful if that love is not reciprocated.

The poet also indicates that he will do what he has to to keep love. This is evident in the line:

I'll shut my eyes to keep you in,

Therefore, the poet gives credence to the time-honored belief that love is a powerful emotion that powerfully influences the decisions and the directions we choose to take in life.