Sunday, January 19, 2014

Analysis of "I Speak Not" by George Byron

Original poem reprinted online here: "I Speak Not" by George Byron
Originally read: July 12, 2013
More information about the Poet: George Byron


So this is more of the typical Romantic love poem here.  I don't know why I chose it then if it's typical.  Reading this poem again nothing really stands out for me as stemming away from the typical love poem style of: yearn, bargain, win.  But the poem is interesting none the less.

Written in rhymed couplets, the speaker goes through some hyperbolic thoughts, "I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name. / There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame." The mention of the name triggers this sense of grief.

"But the tear that now burns on my cheek may impart / The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart."  Deep thoughts?  Well sequestered not philosophical turmoil.    But at this point the speaker is searching for something within the "silence of the heart" -- sometimes saying nothing brings unnecessary hope.

Or rather a hanging and misinterpreting actions, "Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace, / Were those hours - can their joy or their bitterness cease?"  Past me wrote (either/or) and, usually, the second phrase after the or is the more important one for the reader since the second part is most like going to offshoot or is the last thought in the mind before the next line.  However, "joy" sticks out to me more now.  This is more telling of the speaker, grasping at the joy or bitterness.  Not a mixture of the two, more of a sequence from one to the other.

"We repent, we abjure, we will break from our chain / We will part, we will fly to - unite again"  Eulagaic hyperbole?  Or hyperbolic metaphor describing constrictions of space.  Either way, the repetition of the "We" adds to the sense of a couple.

"Oh! thine be the gladness, and mine be the guilt! / Forgive me, adored one! forsake if thou will."  Theoretically here, the speaker is giving the power to the other as the other is the "gladness" his happiness, and he be the "guilt."  And weirdly, the admittance that the other has this control and power  of the speaker leads to the debasing of the speaker.

"And stern to the haughty, but humble to thee, / This soul in its bitterest blackness shall be;"  So I know I skipped ahead, but I think this is what interested me about this poem.  How fare will the speaker push himself down to the dirt?  Mind, check. Body, of course. Soul, right here,  The savior.  I wonder sometimes if that's the appeal -- that the other would save the someone else.  From what, apparently themselves.  But, note, that we as a reader don't know what makes the speaker have the "bitterest blackest soul".  Yes, it's safe to assume the turmoil of love, but how about the acknowledgement of compulsive obsession?  Or perhaps the speaker did "something" to cause the other and the speaker to separate.

And I think the other couplet that interests me is the end, "And the heartless may wonder at all I resign - / Thy lips shall reply, not to them, but to mine."  Ah, the control then wrests back onto the speaker.  All the other has to do is 1) save the speaker from himself 2) love him 3) ???? 4) profit.

This is a monologue for a reason.  The appeal of the poem is the distance, the saving prospect, the love of the speaker.  Romance? Everyone has his or her version of what he or she wants.  Persuasive?  Maybe.

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