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Song(1645)

Edmund Waller

Go, lovely rose!
MeterGo, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me
MeterTell her that wastes her time and me

Note on line 2: “Her” needs stress at this early point in order to orient the reader: the rose is being pressed into service as a messenger to a certain nameless she, whom the speaker accuses of trifling with him in the “that” clause immediately following. The message proper begins, not with this “that,” but with the “That” at the head of line 3.

That now she knows,
MeterThat now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
MeterWhen I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
MeterHow sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that’s young
MeterTell her that’s young
And shuns to have her graces spied,
MeterAnd shuns to have her graces spied,
That had’st thou sprung
MeterThat had’st thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
MeterIn deserts, where no men abide,

Note on line 9: Plain iambic scansion of this line does no harm. It doesn’t do much good, though, either. It tends to emasculate “no men” in the third foot, as if all Waller meant were life-without-people. But, of course, what he means is life-without-sex. That the speaker is a man, the intended addressee a “she,” is the whole point of his pretended address to the flower; and scansion choices are good ways to draw its innuendo out. Keep your eye, and ear, on “blush” in the stanza ahead.

Thou must have uncommended died.
MeterThou must have uncommended died.

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

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

Note on line 20: This last line may be scanned iambically like the two that precede it. But with a a pyrrhic-spondee combination in the first two feet we pause, as it were, to smell the roses: to savor what is passing sweet precisely because its sweetness must pass.


Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Caesura    Syncopation