What would the speaker sacrifice for a kiss in "Song: To Celia"?
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.
The speaker asks his lover to leave a kiss on the wine cup and suggests that he would value it more than nectar from the gods. The speaker is willing to forego Jove’s nectar for his lover’s cup. Thus, he is ready to sacrifice nectar from the gods for a kiss from his beloved.
In Greek mythology, the gods and goddesses do not consume what the mortals consume--instead, they partake of a special nectar that is said to be far better than the finest wine. Thus, the speaker suggests that his lover’s kiss is more satisfying compared to what the gods have to offer.
The speaker states that he will not look for wine if his lover would leave a kiss on the cup. He suggests that the sweetness and intoxicating nature of wine cannot compare to the love they share.