To Celia is a love poem with a simple four line rhyme scheme (abcbabcb), written in first person. The over all tone of the poem is dreamy, optimistic, persistent, and gullibly innocent.
The rhythm is smooth, and pensive, and seems to fall into an iambic pentameter. The poem gives the reader an intimate sense of this man’s love, and obsession for the woman of his desire, Celia. I interpreted this poem as having a theme of lost love. I imagined that Celia is his ex-lover, he still is in love with her, and wants her to come back to him. In the first stanza, the strong feelings he has for her are expressed metaphorically by comparing his love to drinking wine, and Jove’s Nectar, an elixir for immortality. He is intoxicated by her, and can’t live without her. In the first line “Drink to me, only with thine eyes And I will pledge with mine”, he is asking Celia to look at him with her eyes, and tell him she still loves him, he will in turn promise himself to her.
“Or leave a kiss but in the cup And I’ll not look for wine” meaning If that is too much to ask, at least show him in some way that she still cares for him, and that will as least satisfy him. The thirst that from the soul doth rise Doth ask a drink divine”, the desire and love he has for her is burning deep inside of him, and he needs her. “But might I of Jove’s nectar sup I would not change for thine”, meaning he cannot live without her. If he were given the gift of immortality, he would not take it just to be with her. A wreath is a symbol of eternity, in the second stanza, he expresses eternal love for her by metaphorically comparing it to the rosy wreath. I believe the wreath also may represent an apology.In the first line of the second stanza, “I sent thee late a rosy wreath Not so much honoring thee”, I believe he is talking about the mistakes he made.
He used the word late, implying that he was too late showing her his eternal love for her, and is now not able to have her, honoring being another word for having. “As giving it a hope that there It could not withered be”, he is telling her he loves her hoping their love is not lost. “But thou thereon didst only breath And sent’st it back to me”, she doesn’t want to listen to him anymore, takes a deep breath or sigh, and does not accept his apology. Since, when it grows and smells, I swear, Not of itself but thee”, No matter what happens, I will always love you, and a piece of you will always be with me. Some techniques used in this poem are Alliteration, the use of metaphors, personification, irony, hyperbole, and possibly allegory. Alliteration can be identified in this poem by the words that are stressed such as (highlighted in green above) in the first stanza, stresses are placed on Drink, cup, kiss, and divine. Metaphors were used to describe his love for Celia, such as drinking the wine, the elixir of eternal life, and the rosy wreath.
Personification is used in personifying Celia’s eyes, as if they could speak, and the thirst takes on a human quality of rising, and asking for a drink. I thought irony was present when Celia sent the wreath back, or denied his apology. The man disregarded this action, and continued with his protest of love for her. I think hyperbole was used a lot in this poem. For example the entire poem seems to be a hyperbole. It is extremely exaggerated, and in particular, the lines “But might I of Jove’s nectar sup I would not change for thine”, and “Since, when it grows and smells, I swear, Not of itself but thee. The images are unrealistic, and cannot be taken literally.
I thought allegory can be identified in this poem, because if you read through the poem once, you may just interpret a man courting a woman, and the woman literally returning his gift to him, not acknowledging him. However, I felt that these two people were at once very close. They loved each other, and the man did something that caused them to break up. He still is madly in love with her, and would do anything to get her back. He apologizes to her, but it is not enough.The literal meaning is obvious, but the symbolic meaning of the poets word choices lead to my interpretation. I believe three main important concepts that influence the entire poems message would be word choice, tone, and symbols.
Word choice is important in this poem, because the words used give the reader a detailed understanding of what the poet is trying to say. The words also create the imagery of the poem, and set up the meaning of the symbols used throughout. For example the whole first stanza is surrounded by words that are related to drinking wine, such as drink, cup, wine, thirst, and nectar. The words make it easy for the reader to determine that he is comparing the love he has for Celia to drinking wine, and the nectar of Jove’s. Her love is intoxicating, and worth more than anything to him. In the second stanza, the word choice I noticed was more important. The words late, rosy wreath, honouring, withered, breath, grows, smell, and swear, to me all had in depth meaning.
For example late lead me to believe he had made a mistake. Rosy wreath suggested eternal love, and an apology. Honouring took on the meaning of having. Withered reminded me of dyeing, and lost love. Breath implied her presence, and disapproval. Grows, tells the reader that his love for her has only gotten stronger. Smell implies a sense of lingering, as if her essence is still all around him.
Swear implies a promise to oneself, and he promises to always love her. The tone of the poem I described as dreamy, optimistic, persistent, and gullibly innocent. I think this tone is important in getting the poets mood across to the reader. The rhythm of the poem contributes to the tone because it is smooth and pensive. The poem is read in a smooth whimsical way, and slightly imploring.I thought it was dreamy because of the flowery language used, and the whimsical way it read through. Optimistic because he is hopeful that Celia still loves him, persistent, because he goes into length describing his love, and gullibly innocent, because even though it is clear Celia wants nothing to do with him anymore, he still holds onto the love he has for her.
The symbols I thought were interesting, and really led me to discovering an underlying meaning to this poem. Examples of the symbol used in this poem are the eyes, Jove’s Nectar, the rosy wreath, and Celia’s breath.When the poet opens with mentioning thine eyes, it symbolizes that they are close, and he knows what she is feeling without her speaking. The eyes create intimacy in the poem. Jove’s Nectar symbolizes immortality, and his love. His love will never die for her. The rosy wreath symbolizes eternity, on how he will love her forever, and also I believe the wreath serves as a symbol for the apology he is giving her.
Celia’s breath symbolizes her release from him. She does not take him in, but exhales. This symbolizes her rejecting him.I think these symbols were very influential in the way I interpreted this poem. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this poem, and digging into its underlying meaning. At first I found the language very hard to follow, and read it so many times I now have it memorized. I researched other people’s thoughts online, and realized that I had taken a different perspective on the poem compared to other reviews.
I always find it interesting to see how differently people think, and how the meanings of these poems take life in the individual depending on their own experiences.
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