Song: Ask me no more by Thomas Carew: Literary Appreciation

This song is seventeenth-century English poem and this can be justified from the use of archaic words- whither, do stray, cloth haste, unto etc. It is not difficult to understand that this poem is a song, sung for a beloved by a lover. Introduction of the second person pronoun, and the references to beauty and various human attributes indicate that it is a, “love poem".

Thomas Carew

The poem has been addressed to the lady who is likely to demand admiration. In the depth of the meaning, it praises the lady. The speaker speaks to his beloved, expresses his feelings and affection, conveys his unsatisfied longings, flatters her, and ultimately tries to win her favors.

The persona says- "Ask me no more," as if he had already said everything. He is sure that the hearer (the second person) knows everything and she needs to ask him no more. It is also possible that, as the things are already comprehensive or understandable; the speaker no longer wishes to find answers to these questions. The clause functions here as a refrain, which is usually very significant in a song for emotive expression.

Development of the poem consists mainly of the series of questions and answers. Though he says- "Ask me no more", ultimately he answers the questions. After interpreting the questions and answers, we come to understand the deep meaning along with the surface meaning. What happens to the lading, or dying rose alter its season of flourishing? All know the answer. This is subject of common sense. What becomes of the beauty of a living thing such as a flower? Of a lady? In fact, beauty remains with all real perfection for a short time, and later disappears mysteriously, but a question arises- where does it go? Our sense would tell us that it finally mixes with the soil. The speaker of the poem goes a little far from that. He knows the answer. All these flowers, and all their beauty, after fading and withering return to you, and become part of your beauty: indeed, your beauty is the 'cause' or origin from which they have sprung in the first place. Thus, he speaks contrary to common sense. His idea will be accepted if you are a reference to the nature, All would agree that this beauty returns to the nature, but if he intends to refer to the beloved, his idea will be only a fancy. It is obvious, that he is not really trying to, describe for us the exact phenomena of the world of reality: his mind is "playing with" ideas and speculations, in a fanciful, even fantastic way, with the object not of conveying to us the factual truth of a situation, but the truth (or urgency) of a feeling. We should not take the factual basis of the poem too seriously, or too literally, but rather fantastic, figurative or literary meaning should be grasped.

The beauty of the rose is the beauty of the lady; therefore, like the 'orient', suggesting the East, exotic far-away lands of romance and splendor, the sunrise, the orient pearl, etc., the deeper beauty of the rose has been established in the beauty of the lady. The roses are originated out of the lady's beauty.

There is a jump in introducing Jove and heaven in the first two paragraphs. It's Jove, king of gods in Roman mythology, who bestows the beauty to her and also to the flowers. The golden atoms of the day, or the rays of the light, have been originated and prepared by the heaven, or Jove, to enrich her hair. It is also possible that the speaker praises the lady' hair, which is golden caused by the golden sunrays.

The Melody of the nightingale can be heard during May, but when the month is past, the bird with her song resides in the lady's throat and keeps her note warm.

Those stars' light that fall downwards in the dead of night are found set in the lady's eyes. They are fixed in the eyes' sphere. The reference to the falling stars is for meteors that are supposed to be set in the shining eyes of the lady.

The Phoenix is a legendary Arabian bird, which is the symbol of life. It is well known for its mysterious birth and death. It is said that only one bird existed, and a new one was born from the ashes of the, previous one. This mystery has been found in the lady's fragrant (sweet smelling) booms. The bird builds her spicy nest, neither in the east nor in the west. (e.g. Eastern, or, western parts of the world), but in her bosom.

Jove, heaven, and Phoenix are mythological references. Golden atoms of the day and falling stars are scientific and natural references, but used figuratively for dyeing the hair of the lady and for shining light of the eyes of the lady respectively. Rose and nightingale are creatures of nature that signify beauty and sweet voice of the lady. So far the lady concerns, different parts of her body have been elaborated, highlighted elevated, and also exaggerated. Her body, hair, voice, eyes, and heart have been described beautifully, with the series of allusions and comparisons.

The Charm of the poem along with the spellbinding charm of the lady has been added with the use of the regular pattern of rhythm and the correspondence of sound which is one of the ancient, traditional pleasures of poetry. Each stanza closely matches the general pattern: each contains two pairs of end-rhyming words which are full and sonorous: we notice that almost all the rhyming words are based not on sharp short vowel sounds, but, sustained and resounding, on the extended English diphthongs: bestow/rose , prepare/hair, throat/note, etc. Each line of the poem contains eight syllables with four stresses, and the basic pattern is iambic, each line divides into two halves at almost exactly the same place. The metrical pattern underlies and serves the natural colloquial stresses of the poet's voice.

Literary Spotlight

Summary of Song: Ask me no more