Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Edmund Waller, "Go, Lovely Rose"

Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that's young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired;
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.

Then die! that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!

The speaker in this poem is Waller, speaking to a rose about what message it should bring to a young lady.

The overall meaning of the poem is that of a woman Waller tries to "become more aquainted with". He sends a rose to her with a message of intended companionship. He is saying this rose is beautiful, but does not compare to her. He also continues on about how her beauty is of no worth when she hides from his admiration.

The first stanza describes the young lady's unmatched beauty compared to the rose ("When I resemble her to three, How sweet and fair she seems to be" [L4-5] ). In line 7, he is speaking to the rose directly to convey his desire to be with her, as in the words "And shuns to have her graces spied". Lines 14-15, "suffer herself to be desired, and not blush so to be admired..." in other ways is saying she is not giving into his advancements, and is making herself suffer quietly because of it.

Waller uses a strong key of apostrophe in this poem. He speaks to the rose as if he is directing a subordinate with a goal. As Waller speaks to the rose, he builds a feeling of enormity about himself that paints him as being strong and convincing. The tone of the narrator is one of a convincing matter as he tells the rose to pass on a note of persuasion to this maiden, which is supported by the text. An example would be lines 11-12: "Small is the worth of beauty from the light retired", a dramatic statement meant to try and convince the maiden to be his.


Joel said...

Good reading Mike. Here's a few notes:

* I'm not sure what a "strong use of apostrophe" is. Are you saying he's being very direct? Anyhoo, observing that the author uses apostrophe to directly address the rose is enough of a critical comment.

* I have to get you a sheet of tone words to help you better articulate the poet's attitude. I'll give that to you in class today. I am getting up from my desk and placing it in my laptop bag right now.

* I'm back. Ba-bye again.

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Anonymous said...

The only correction I need to make is that you stated that Waller is the narrator of the poem. That is incorrect. One should not assume that the author is always the narrator. The narrator of this poem is just a man (or person since it is not specified that it is a man)and not Edmund Waller :)

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