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Background of the Poet
- Celebrated beauty and poet in the 17th and 18th Century.
Structure and Rhyme Scheme
- 1 stanza which compromises of 11 couplets (22 lines).
- Could denote the orderly nature of life: how death must warp us one day eventually, and how Monck is content with this idea and actually at ease because she knows that she must eventually die. Also, by the end of the poem, we realise that she has been through a lot of suffering and therefore death is actually a source of ease for her rather than something she attempts to escape.
- Pretty obvious — the poem compromises of versus that she wants to give to her husband as a departing message of the finality of her love and faithfulness to her husband as she must now move on and face Death.
Language Analysis and Critical Appreciation
- ‘…worldly thoughts’ & ‘…earthly joy’: So Monck understands that all joys and sorrows she experiences is restricted to the confinements of the current world we are in. This explains why she consistently uses such terms rather than talking about said emotions vaguely and unrestrictedly. As a result, this allows the reader to ponder over such existential ideas.
- ‘…tenderest’: Interesting usage of the word, usually unlike the traditional view of a man. She envisions him as someone kind and caring, and therefore the usage of this word tells us of her admiration of her husband. Not only that, but she considers him her ‘…dearest friend’, which is important because she not only sees him as someone to engage with sexually, but also emotionally and therefore departing from this world hurts her the most because of how she must leave her husband behind.
- ‘…conqueror Death’: Okay so multiple things with this line. She personifies death as a ‘conqueror’, as if death is something that envelopes and ultimately rules a person and which is something that no one is able to escape. She also capitalises ‘Death’ which shows that she also respects the idea of death and instead of negating or trying to prevent it from happening, she almost embraces it and respects the eventual occurrence of it. Therefore, readers praise Monck because of her ability to embrace her existentialism and readers also ponder over their eventual destiny.
- ‘…veil me’: Almost as if death were a mask or piece of cloth. She could be referring to how the dead are covered with cloth which symbolises that they have passed on, perhaps symbolising death in the cloth that covered her once she had died? Alternatively, she could be referring to something that ultimately envelopes her in an abstract way and therefore she doesn’t try to hide away from it.
- ‘…cheerful grace’: We usually associate death with negative connotations, however, Monck in this line is instead looking at it in a completely different way. She has embraced the concept and instead almost looks at death in a positive and optimistic light. Again, we commend her.
- ‘…one terror…meagre face’: Again personifying death as a man and we discover that she sees him with a ‘meagre’ face. This is an interesting word used. She uses this to denote that death is always unfulfilled and constantly looking towards the death of more people, every day; consistently. Therefore ‘one terror’ (as people usually refer to death as terror) is not enough and it extends to all living things rather than one or two.
- ‘…vain’: Again, an almost repetition of the first line where she understand that all joys are restricted to the confinements of this world, and therefore regardless of what you may attain in this life it will all simply remain in this life and will not be brought into the next life. This is also a further development of the exploration of the theme of death.
- ‘But love, fond love…’: Asyndeton and anaphora. The poet does this as an almost insertion, that love may overrule certain worldly powers and thus emphasises the power and the significance of her love/the extent of it for her husband. She says ‘fond’ love, therefore love in good faith and true love, also there is a repetition of the word ‘love’ and we see her further exploring the idea of it throughout the course of her poem.
- ‘…obstruct my journey’: Interesting word used ‘obstruct’, as if love will stop her journey to the skies. In a way she could be saying that it is because of her love she would not want to leave this world and further emphasises her endearing love for her husband and to convey her complete faith and affection towards him. This is really important to her as her love is terribly extensive and it is almost as if if she had a choice between going to the Heavens or staying in the temporary world with her husband, she would choose the latter because her love for her husband would ‘obstruct’ the journey to the Heavens. Alternatively, it could be that with worldly emotions still active then it may become difficult to make a soundly journey from the present life to the after life, and therefore perhaps she may be conveying that she must forego the love for her husband so that she may die a peaceful peace and be able to reach the Heavens in ease.
- ‘…But say, thou dearest’: Asyndeton and anaphora. She consistently says ‘But’, therefore this may display her underlying insecurities about what her husband may be thinking and therefore she does not want any misconceptions to be maintained after her death and therefore she clears them up in this poem. It also shows the development of certain ideas throughout her poem that she would like her husband to know before she faces death openly.
- ‘…painful pilgrimage’: Acoustic effect due to repetition and it’s interesting she calls her plight a ‘pilgrimage’, as if life is a holy and spiritual journey with multiple ups and downs. The mention of Heaven shows that Monck may be a spiritual person, therefore would believe in the afterlife and the current world to be a test of God. As a result, she sees her pilgrimage as ‘painful’ and we come to know that she apparently has faced a great many challenges in her life and therefore rather she would enjoy her husband not pitying her but rather ‘rejoice’ and celebrate the fact that she has now ultimately moved onto the next stage of God’s Divine Plan.
- She ‘…shakes off life’: as if life is something that is temporarily attached onto someone’s soul and the real life is yet to begin.
- ‘…faithful wife’: By the end of the poem we realise that Monck will forever consider her the wife of her husband and will forever be faithful to him. She sees that even though she will eventually die, she will never renounce her title as his wife and therefore remains faithful and she takes great pride in this. This also reasserts her love for him and therefore leaves him with no misconceptions about her love upon her death, and therefore displays a final act of kindness she bestows to him.