Keywords: Sonnets, Michael Drayton, Love, poetry, 17th century English poetry
Welcome to another installment of Decoding Poetry! I took the delight in reading Michael Drayton’s Sonnet #61: Since There’s No Help.
The speaker of this poem is trying to reconcile their feelings and confusion about love. The speaker wants nothing to do with it anymore, then recognizes Love for what it is truly is…
I went a little deeper with this one without outside help, however after I finished my own observations and jotting down what I thought, I found an amazing analysis on the AP Literature site. I checked it against my own notes and found it lined up.
Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, passion speechless lies;
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And innocence is closing up his eyes–
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!
The Sounds, The Rhyme of Breaking Away
This poem uses alliteration(repetition of consonants) and assonance(repetition of vowel sounds) quite a bit, it adds more punch to what the speaker is trying to say.
Alliteration: “That, thus”(line2), “When we”(line 6), “of our”(line 7), “Love’s latest”(line 9), “by his bed”(line 11), “Innocence is”(line 12), “wouldest, when”(line 13)
Assonance: “no-more-of”(line 2), “am glad”(line 3), “shake hands, cancel”(line 5), “we meet”(line 6), “our brows”(line 7), “of-former-love”(line 8), “last gasp”(line 9), “when his”(line 10), “bed-death”(line 11), “given him”(line 13)
What significance do these two devices of poetry lend? Well, for starters the repetition of vowel and consonant sounds add more heartfelt flavor to a poem such as this. Especially when the speaker says, “Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath…”(line 9) it hardens the sounds on your tongue as you realize Love may not be as eternal as we thought, or Love can hurt(I will save my full thought on this in a moment)
This is a Journey…into Sonnets
As soon as I read this poem aloud, I knew from the beginning I was reading a Shakespearean sonnet.
Each line in the quatrains(minus the 13th and 14th couplets ) has ten syllables per line which is called iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme here for this sonnet as an end rhyme of: a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g. This lends to the ever flowing mimicry of a love letter, or a song.
Since There is No Help For Loving Someone
The message here speaks to anyone who has been in love. We have all been at that place in our soul where we were through with the false concept of love and its minions. We did not want to see it again, but when we finally lose it or the thought of losing love penetrates our thoughts, we get melancholy.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of this poem. It was published in 1619 and even so, I think we’ve all viewed Love in this way at some point or another.
Don’t be shy! Discuss! 🙂