Friday, November 18, 2005

TO OENONE. by Robert Herrick

What conscience, say, is it in thee,
When I a heart had one, [won]
To take away that heart from me,
And to retain thy own?

For shame or pity, now incline
To play a loving part;
Either to send me kindly thine,
Or give me back my heart.

Covet not both; but if thou dost
Resolve to part with neither;
Why! yet to shew that thou art just,
Take me and mine together.


The title of this poem first attracted me to it. 'Oenone' sounds like 'owing one' which is probably because the speaker's significant other owes him her love, in exchange for his. This poem is cool because it shows that love takes both parties to give, or else love will not work at all. This is a relatively basic concept, and it is reflected on the basic abab rhyme scheme. The word play of the poem also makes it interesting. If you read the second line with the last word being "one," then it makes the speaker seem vulnerable, having only one heart that the subject of the poem takes from him. If that line is read with "won" rather than "one," it feels like the speaker freely gives his heart to the winner, his significant other. However, the speaker does not seem to be so vulnerable, as is not compromising with his heart; he wants to trade, or no deal.

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