Analysis of Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part by Michael Drayton

Analysis of Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part

Analysis of Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part

In the golden treasury of Elizabethan poetry, the sonnet, as a poetical type, is of the utmost significance. The importation of sonnet- writing from Italy by Sir Thomas Wyatt impelled almost all important men of letters of the time to write sonnets. Sonnet-writing became a literary fashion and there could hardly be any Elizabethan poet, worth the name, who did not attempt to write sonnets.

But this is not all, Sir Philip Sidney set further the fashion for writing sonnet-cycles or sonnet sequences, with his Astrophel and Stella. That proved to be a tremendous impulse for the Elizabethan sonneteers. Within a short span of six years, after Sidney’s death, flowed a large number of sonnet-cycles from many an Elizabethan poet. Thus the sonnet and the sonnet-cycles are found to form the major popular poetical innovations of Elizabethan literature.

Drayton’s present sonnet, beginning with ‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part‘, is a remarkable sonnet. This belongs to a cycle of sonnets. It is actually Sonnet 61 of Drayton’s sonnet-cycle Ideas Mirror, comprising sixty three sonnets in all. The sonnet is, thus, typically an Elizabethan one.

It is to be noted, in this connection, that Drayton’s sonnet-sequence of Ideas Mirror is no poetical work of a very high order. Its poetical value, as a whole, is rather mediocre. Yet, the present sonnet, Sonnet 61, is a highly impressive and well-executed specimen of Elizabethan sonnets. This is even estimated as the one specific sonnet that deserves to be ranked with some of Shakespeare’s best workmanship.

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The sonnet, as already indicated, is a good instance of the Elizabethan sonnet-sequence. It well bears out how Drayton profited immensely from the study of Sidney’s sonnet-cycle Astrophel and Stella. His theme here, as Sidney’s, is the sad and tender love of a true lover for an unresponsive lady love. A soft but deep sense of farewell rings all over the sonnet. The lover is aware of the hard truth of the futility to pursue his love for an unresponsive and relentless mistress. So he feels it best to bid a graceful farewell to love-

“Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.”

There may be the touch of sadness in such a parting, but the lover wishes to retain no feeling of regret or remonstrance, but to leave completely and calmly:

“Shake hands for ever, Cancell all our vowes”.

This parting of love is tender and graceful, as in Sidney. The poet’s tone is not merely quiet but also profound, and here, again, Drayton is found to echo Sidney. But Drayton seems to surpass Sidney in the dramatization of a specific situation or event in the chronicle of love. This has definitely added to the impressiveness of the sonnet. Drayton’s sonnet, in fact, has a dramatic character, and this is particularly noticed in the enactment of a small scene of the death of love, which concludes in suspense. This has a distinct poetic vigour to be reckoned highly.

Drayton’s sestet is also couched in the accepted convention of the Elizabethan sonnet. There is a vivid representation of love at the threshold of death, with its pulse failing and passion suppressed. Faith and innocence, ministers to true love, are all turned out and discarded by the relentless mistress. The entire imagery is highly dramatic and meaningful and smacks of a characteristic and effective Elizabethan sonnet.

The concluding couplet, however, has a sort of novelty, with the lover’s fond hope for a happy change in the ladylove’s attitude to him. She has so long ignored and slighted him as a lover, but, at the moment of their final separation, she alone can change the situation and may yet recover love from death to life. The end is in a note of suspense, singular and suggestive of the quality of the sonnet.

Drayton’s theme is typically Petrarchan-a lover’s passion and pang for his fair mistress, who is not responsive to his ardent love. This has no mood of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady sonnets. Yet, in the matter of technique, Drayton is found to be a follower of Shakespeare. The sonnet is cast in the Shakespearean mould of three quatrains and a concluding couplet. But the structure of the sonnet is not all framed in accordance with the Shakespearean pattern. This has the Volta or the turn of the mood at the beginning of the sestet, that is in the third quatrain. In the typical Elizabethan sonnets of the Shakespearean type, the thoughts or ideas are treated and developed in different quatrains, and the concluding couplet sums up the main contention. Here Drayton’s sonnet is different from the structural angle.

As already noted, the opening of the sonnet is dramatic enough. The first quatrain speaks of the lovers’ separation and the lover’s desire to have a graceful farewell from the lady. The second quatrain continues the contention of the previous one and contains the lover’s entreaty to forget this matter of love altogether. There seems to be a turn of mood with the third quatrain, that presents precisely the last phase of love through a well-conceived imagery of a dying patient. The scene here is of ‘the last grasp of Love’s latest breath’. The final couplet, which continues with the third quatrain as the sestet, cherishes an expectation of the change in the lady’s attitude and the recovery of love from death to life. Of course, the thought is rounded off, as in Shakespeare, in the final couplet.

“Nor if thou would’st, when all have given him over

From Death to Life, thou might’st him yet recover.”

Drayton’s sonnet, Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part as pointed out already, is in the Shakespearean form , with three quatrains and a concluding couplet. There are seven rhymes (a b c d e f g), arranged in the usual Shakespearean order.

First Quatrain: abbab

Second Quatrain: cdcd

Third Quatrain: efef

Concluding Couplet: gg

A few more technical aspects of the poem need be noted now. The entire sestet comprises only one sentence. Thus the third quatrain and the concluding couplet, as noted, are compacted into the sestet. The sonnet is also really rich in imagery, as evident in the third quatrain.

Love, faith, innocence and death are here very aptly and usefully personified. There is a felicitous inversion or hyperbaton in the last line.

Drayton’s Sonnet 61 is a gem of the Elizabethan sonnets. Easy and playful thoughts, in a metaphysical strain, in the first two quatrains, become grave and concentrated in the sestet. Indeed, the sonnet well deserves such compliments from Rossetti as ‘one of the finest of all Elizabethan sonnets’ or from Saintsbury as ‘one among the ten or twelve finest sonnets in the world’.

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