The Presentation of the Beloved in the Poem ‘To Celia’

“To Celia” is a four-stanza poem composed by Ben Jonson that has been stated to be centered around his fellow poet Lady Mary Wroth, who had actually likewise been the topic of his other poems such as ‘To Penshurst’ and ‘Sonnet to the Noble Woman, the Woman Mary Wroth’. This poem is essentially a depiction of a charming woman that the speaker is romantically interested in. In the first half of the poem ‘To Celia’, the speaker describes how her tiniest of actions would activate the largest of responses in his frame of mind. The speaker then continues the poem by chronicling the occasions in their relationship. This can be translucented the reference of his choice to send his beloved a rosy wreath, and ultimately his beloved’s action towards this specific action. It is clear that her every move is of utmost significance to him, and the reader gets a sense of the speaker’s transcendental love for his cherished. Therefore, the question before us is: how was the beloved presented in this poem?

To start with, ‘To Celia’, could be translated as the speaker resolving the poem to his precious, and this is supported by the use of second-person pronouns, such as ‘thine’, ‘thou’, and ‘thee’ throughout the 4 verses. On the other hand, the phrase ‘To Celia’ likewise seems like a toast to commemorate the presence of Celia, thus presenting Celia as a rather special human. The title of the poem has not only supplied a hint to the reader about drinking but has actually also started the pedestalling of the beloved. In the very first verse of the poem, alcohol is utilized as a metaphor for the beloved’s intoxicating eye contact. This is suggestive of the reality that the speaker is addicted to the beloved, which explains why he would go so far as to ‘pledge’ to her. To put it simply, Celia is illustrated as a female who is lovely enough for the speaker to be committed and devoted to her at the drop of a hat, so long as she would simply glimpse at him. Her kiss is then referred to as a compound that surpasses white wine in regards to its capability to cause infatuation. In this circumstances, the reader is again advised of the beloved’s heavenly qualities, which possibly is used by the speaker to justify his love for her. It is worth keeping in mind that the speaker’s desire for her to interact any mutual sensations through actions instead of words develops an environment of secrecy. The reader would now be curious about the identity of the cherished and the nature of their mystical relationship.

In the second stanza, the example of his love and desire being related through wine and thirst is shown through the rhyme scheme of the first 2 verses. The corresponding lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, for example latest thing of the very first line of the very first verse ‘eyes’, rhymes completely with latest thing of the very first line of the second stanza, ‘rise’. In the very first line, thirst is used as a metaphor to express the speaker’s desires and prompts as a physical need. This is done through the indicated desperation by the use of the word ‘thirst’ and it shows how the affection of the precious is of utmost necessity for the speaker to live. The concept is further reinforced with the expression ‘from the soul doth increase’, as it gives the reader the impression that the speaker wishes for his cherished with every fiber of his being. In the following line, the speaker starts to draw a connection in between Celia and the divine. To start with, the speaker raises the depiction of Celia by showing that she is the ‘divine beverage’ that his soul requires, and profits by additional idealizing the cherished through hyperbolic comparisons. For instance, the speaker confesses that the desirability of Jove’s nectar pales when juxtaposed against that of the divine drink of Celia’s love. For this reason, it can be stated that the speaker thinks about the magnificent drink to have powers even greater than that of Jove’s nectar, which is a substance that presumably offers immortality. This legendary allusion helps seal the message that the speaker is trying to make clear: that Celia’s love is so terrific, it goes beyond even the best of what the mystical realm can provide.

The poem then departs from the drinking analogy that has actually previously been presented. Now the focus of the poem is on a wreath, and the speaker utilizes this to again show that his cherished is indeed incredible. The representation of the wreath as ‘rosy’ could recommend beauty and fragility, but the seemingly positive objective of sending the beloved a beautiful wreath is diminished by the following line. ‘Not so much honouring thee’ would shock the reader as it is an unpredicted tonal shift from the devotee-like appreciation that originated from the speaker in the first 2 stanzas. In fact, the phrase seems to insinuate a kind of insult towards the precious. The speaker then defends himself by clarifying that he considers Celia to have powers of immortality, hence his actions function as an experiment to check the accuracy of his belief. This supplies proof that the speaker believes that his precious is not mortal and therefore is exempt to the very same mortality as the flowers in the wreath, which completely discusses why the speaker tries to extend the presence of the wreath by sending it to her. The Petrarchan convention of immortality in romantic poetry, which is introduced in the previous stanza, is clearly sustained. Besides that, the enjambment in the third verse in lines 10-12, mirror the speaker’s wish to celebrate the appeal of the wreath. The lack of a time out could also be connected to the extension of the life of the wreath.

In the last verse, the reader is notified on what ends up being of the wreath. It is sent back by Celia, and hence can be viewed as a direct rejection towards the speaker’s romantic objectives. This paints a picture of the beloved as a coy and scornful woman, which harmonizes the Petrarchan conventions typically discovered in love poetry. Basically, the main point of the stanza is that despite being sent back, the wreath is still alive as it still ‘breathes and smells’. Similarly, despite a rather obvious termination, the speaker’s love have yet to be squashed. However, the speaker’s seemingly foolish habits of clinging onto this prospective relationship could be justified by the reality that because the rose smells of Celia, it could indicate an indicated approval. Moreover, the increased smelling of Celia is an evident statement of power because it shows that the smell of Celia is so powerful that it overwhelms the smell of the rose, despite the fact that the rose has only been in Celia’s existence for a reasonably brief while. For that reason, the wreath is not only symbolic of the speaker’s hopes for the ongoing life of his relationship with Celia, however it is also symbolic of Celia’s quasi-divine capabilities as well.

In general, the poem provides the beloved as a female who is above simple mortals. In the very first verse, Celia exists as a woman so beautiful that her kiss is capable of offering more intoxication than alcohol. The speaker then continues to raise Celia’s image by comparing the desirability of Celia’s love and Jove’s nectar, and eventually chooses that he would compromise this beverage of immortality in favor of Celia’s love. This once again positively slants Celia and presents her as an extraordinary woman. Lastly, through the revival of the wreath, the speaker makes it self-evident that Celia is to be considered as absolutely divine. In conclusion, Celia is presented to the reader as a heavenly female whose charm and love is more effective than what both earthly and supernatural worlds can offer.

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