Sir Philip Sidney Questions and Answers

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What is the explanation of the poem "My True Love Hath My Heart" by Sir Philip Sidney?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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You may notice that the poem's title is preceded by the phrase "Song from Arcadia." Arcadia refers to a mythological pastoral paradise or utopia in which people live in harmony with nature. The speaker appears to be a female who is describing her romantic love for a particular man in her life. Perhaps she feels that their love must make of their lives an Arcadia. In the first eight lines, she explains that they have "exchange[d]" hearts and that they made a good bargain; he keeps her heart, and she keeps his, figuratively, as she declares that his heart "bides" in her. In the final six lines, she seems to describe the wounds that prompted the two people to "exchange" hearts in the first place. His heart was wounded by love of her, and her heart was wounded by his wounding (as she loved him), and so they both were "equal hurt" and sought to remedy their pain and find their "bliss" by trading their wounded hearts. Of course, they do not actually trade hearts, but hearts function as metonyms for, perhaps, an exchange of true lovers' vows and the origins of a romantic relationship.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This poem is a rather simple poem where the author expresses a romantic sentiment:  I have given my heart to my love, and they have given me theirs, and because of this, we are both happier.  He states that this exchange was done willingly, and "there was never a better bargain driven."  In other words, we wanted to give each other our hearts, and it was a wonderful bargain because we both got something wonderful that we wanted.  He goes on to say that his love's heart keeps him and his love one, and his heart guides and supports his love.  He says that they both cherish each other's hearts:

"He loves my heart, for once it was his own/I cherish his, because in me it bides."

The message behind this poem is that giving your heart to someone else, and getting theirs in return is a beautiful, lovely thing, and that it makes your life better.  It is nice to have someone who cherishes your heart and life, and takes good care of it.  I hope this explanation helps a bit.  Good luck!

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