What is the meaning of the following poem by Thomas Randolph?Music, thou queen of souls, get up and stringThy powerful lute, and some sad requiem sing, Till rocks requite thy echo with a...

 What is the meaning of the following poem by Thomas Randolph?

Music, thou queen of souls, get up and string
Thy powerful lute, and some sad requiem sing,
Till rocks requite thy echo with a groan,
And the dull cliffs repeat the duller tone.
Then on a sudden with a nimble hand
Run gently o'er the chords, and so command
The pine to dance, the oak his roots forgo
The holm and aged elm to foot it too;
Myrtles shall caper, lofty cedars run,
And call the courtly palm to make up one.
Then, in the midst of all their jolly train,
Strike a sad note, and fix 'em trees again.

Asked on by dianam82

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This poem by Thomas Randolph seems to be a call formusic to help first ease sorrow and then turn sorrow into joy--and then back to normal.  Music here is personified (given human characteristics) and the first four lines discuss music as a way of alleviating some grief or sorrow.  Note the words "requiem," "groan"ing, and "dull"; even the rocks and hills will echo with the sounds of grieving. 

Line five brings a change in tone, starting with the word 'then."  This implies a shift in mood, as if to say once the grieving has been done, do something else.  Music is told to change the sorrow into joy and it does so with the use of words like "nimble," "dance," and "caper."  The trees have been commanded to dance, and even the elm will "foot it." 

The last two lines also begin with "then," indicating a further change.  The trees of every kind are dancing.  Music must

Then, in the midst of all their jolly train,
Strike a sad note, and fix 'em trees again.

After the joyous music has uprooted the trees through their dancing, music then has the power to "strike a sad note" to put those roots back firmly in the ground.  This poem is a commentary, then, on the power of music to move us.  It can take us from sorrow to joy and back again.  Music has power. 

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