Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Analysis of "April" by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Original poem reprinted online here: "April" by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Originally read: April 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: Algernon Charles Swinburne



This is an easy and not so easy poem to decipher.  On the surface there's an alternating rhyme scheme sort of (ababcdeded) but that "c" line changes the dynamics of the poems intent, and trajectory.  Is the "c" line a volta, not all the time, but sometimes.

Also the poem has a simple subject, right, speaker loves a woman like the divine and (possibly) vice versa, or maybe not.  Yeah it gets confusing really quick for me because the tone changes on the subject (both the woman and the divine).  I've been stuck on how to analyze this poem, so I'm just going to do it one stanza at a time.

In stanza one the main focus is on nature and the comparison between, "The songs of the birds begin" (which has a positive connotation), and "I sing with sighing between" -- happy versus sad, but the latter line is the "c" line in the stanza, so the line works as a sort of turn this stanza.  A turn towards, "I am heavy at heart for my sin."  And here we go with the loving a woman which is contrary to the season of Spring.

In stanza two is not necessarily the description of the sin, but the ones who cast the speaker as the sinner, "I know he will needs have it so / Who is master and king, / Who is lord of the spirit of spring."  Note that the last line I quote is the "c" line.  Anyway, the rhetorical questions set up a separation between the speaker and the "master and king."  Not necessarily at odds, but not necessarily existential either.  No, it's more of a mix that goes internal that doesn't really deter the speaker to love the woman, "Even her for whose sake / Love hat ta'en me and slain unaware." 

In stanza three there's a bargaining sequence, "O my lord, O Love, / I have laid my life at thy feet;" And here the woman and the divine take on both attributes as the speaker is setting himself as a follower of both -- even so far as being overly subservient, "Thout wilt take any pity thereof, / Any mercy on me."

"But"  this is the start of the fourth stanza.  Here is a definite volta which changes the tone of somewhat genuine devotion to over the top (maybe disingenuous) feelings of "love."  The speaker has "sworn without fail I shall die" without love and "What I love, what I sing for and sigh,"  A little bit more overboard than expected.

Past me wrote this in the fifth stanza, "If she gives 'it' to me, totally worth the regret afterword -- she might be taken already."  Past me highlights the line "For this grief of her giving is worth / All the joy of my days."  This is when I start to cringe and laugh at the same time.  Yes, a simple love poem (kind of neurotic, but okay sure -- love poems are a bit neurotic), but the tone goes overboard and the situations become too stratified -- "My dream and my dread." 

And what solidifies the poem as a very one sided love poem is this line in the sixth stanza, "For thy love's sake I live,"  ah the old standby, but there's also this line in the sixth stanza, "Do tell me, ere either depart / What a lover may give / For a woman so fair thou art."  If she told him to depart, would he listen.

With all this divine love  set up the last lines interested me:

     The lovers that disbelieve,
          False rumours shall grieve
     And evil-speaking shall part.

Past me wrote, "double negative believe in false rumors?  First mention of evil.  Only those who dont't believe in love are 'evil'."  Actually, I think the poem takes a more self-loathing turn.  Since the affair seems more one sided, the individual (yet in the mind of pure devotion is part of the 'lover') that not believe in "false rumors" or false unsubstantiated talks shall grieve -- or another way to put it -- take in all the "truths" and disregard the biased "falsities" (when in fact the truth is swayed by the devotion of the speaker).

Evil shall part -- sin as mentioned in the beginning the speaker has.  So, the speaker has to truly devote himself to the lie, to the dream of the poem, in order for the evil to depart and "love" to come back, or in, or there -- wherever the speaker wants the ideal to be.
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne

No comments:

Post a Comment