What would the speaker sacrifice for a kiss in "Song: To Celia"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Poems of love always seek to exalt the loved one to a tremendous extent, and this famous love poem by Ben Johnson is no exception. As the speaker tries to encourage his beloved to give him a sign of affection and love, he asks her to give him a metaphorical kiss by taking a drink from a cup and thereby "leaving a kiss" in the cup. If she would do this, the speaker would "not looke for wine" as no wine could intoxicate him as much as a kiss from his beloved. In fact, such "wine" that his lady could give him would be so prized and esteemed that he would not even want to exchange it for Jove's nectar itself:

But might I of Jove's Nectar sup,

I would not change for thine.

The speaker is so in love with Celia that he is willing to sacrifice the drink of the gods for her drink, which indirectly elevates her to above the status of the gods, as Celia's kiss is more important to the speaker than the nectar of the gods themselves.

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