Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

An aria is an elaborate melody for a single voice with accompaniment. Verlaine placed this poem in a group of poems called “little arias” that lie within the framework of the larger group called “ballads.” The importance of music in “It weeps in my heart” is unquestionable. The solo is sung by the narrator whose melody—one of sadness—is in disharmony with the sweet sounds of life around him. The epigraph attributed to Rimbaud that appears as the introduction to the poem, “It rains gently on the town,” portrays a simple and almost peacefully somnambulant scene that, the reader discovers, is a counterpoint or descant to the woeful tune that measures discord within the man. As there is no satisfactory resolution for the narrator because the heart will not betray the cause of its melancholy, so, too, the two melodies never assonate. Although the ballad and the aria are both traditional vehicles to express unrequited love, the homophonic structure of the ballad and the labeling of the poem a “little aria” are ironic, as the poet seeks to empty generic norms with this theme of pervasive depression attributable to unknown causes: There is no grand passion d’amour here, simply a lack of comprehension. This particular “arietta” is a psychological portrait and not at all a sentimental one, despite the fact that structurally the poem is composed like a ballad.

One reason that Verlaine’s poetry does not translate well is his...

(The entire section is 513 words.)