The title of this poem is particularly interesting in that it asserts unequivocably that Corinna will take part in the activities of May morning, although there is no certainty in the text that she will do so. The poem is a dramatic monologue, with the lover-speaker seeking to persuade his sweetheart to get out of bed and join the other youths “to fetch in May.” Her reactions to his entreaties are unrecorded. She remains no more than a name, as the interest of the poem resides in the speaker’s rhetorical strategies to work his will upon her.
The opening words, “Get up! get up for shame!” are jarring, as if he is trying to startle her into wakefulness, but the tone softens with “Get up, sweet slug-a-bed.” The burden of his argument in the first stanza is that it is “sin” and “profanation” to stay indoors when “a thousand virgins on this day/ Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.”
In the second stanza, the lover’s tone changes perceptibly. Harsh urgency gives way to soft flattery, as indicated by the sibilance of the lines. Do not bother with jewels, the lover argues, since nature will make you as sweet as the goddess of flowers herself. Even Titan is standing still as he awaits her entrance into the natural world. The last line of this stanza (“Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying”) shows the lover’s wit and ambiguity. The line is certainly a cavalier allusion to Puritanism as a religion of...
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