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The poem is a brief treatise on the nature of reality. On the one hand we have actuality—the actuality of music, sweet-smelling flowers, rose leaves, and the thoughtful person being addressed by the poet. The speaker of the poem advocates the Platonic position that the reality of sense and thought persists even though the specific originators of sense and thought may vanish. In other words, the reality of things exists in human perceptions of things, and the transcendent reality which human beings may personify belong to an order higher than human beings, by themselves, can reach. These ideas especially apply to the listener, whose loving nature will be transferred, when the listener is “gone” (line 7) to become a part of the very personification of Love (“Love itself,” line 8). By equating the listener with Love, the speaker makes the highest possible compliment to the listener.
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