Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part as Love Sonnet
The major content of the Elizabethan sonnets, prior to Shakespeare, is love, rather sex-love, and the lover’s intense passion and pain of love for his mistress, fair but unresponsive. In the sonnet-cycles, initiated by Sidney in his Astrophel and Stella, the same material is found treated Even the Elizabethan sonneteers, who happened to be Shakespeare’s contemporaries or successors, have almost the same theme of love in their sonnets.
Drayton, not a brilliant but typical Elizabethan sonneteer, expresses a lover’s ardent passion of love for his unrelenting lady in his sonnet- sequence, Ideas Mirror, comprising sixty three sonnets. The Sonnet 61, complimented as one of the finest non-Shakespearean Elizabethan sonnets, deals with this very passion. The poet-lover here addresses his mistress who is cold and hard to his intimate feeling of love. The sonnet brings out the lover’s reaction to her attitude to his true and deep love.
The lover feels aware, though rather sadly, that their union is not at all possible in the existing situation and that it is quite futile on his part to pursue his love for a relentless mistress. But despondency does not cause degeneration or depression in him. He takes this in a spirit of good grace and with a sense of resignation and calmly bids farewell to the lady forever.
Drayton’s love-sonnet has a dramatic beginning, with the lover obliged to leave his love for the lady. He wished to have only a graceful parting from her. He wants to quit with courtesy and in quietude. The tone of Browning’s rejected lover (in The Last Ride Together) is anticipated and heard in the resolve of Drayton’s lover. In a dramatic setting, Browning’s rejected lover does not censure the lady or complain, but rather asks for a last ride together. Drayton’s lover also likes to part from his mistress, with grace and honour, with a kiss only:
“Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.”
He has no grief, no grievance against her. Love seems to have made him sober and gentle. He even feels happy to free himself so easily and entirely from the sharp ache of disappointed love. His declaration is unequivocal-
“And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.”
He anticipates also Browning’s lover’s noble contention-“Take back the hope you gave”-by urging upon the lady to cancel all their previous vows and shake hands for ever-
“Shake hands for ever, Cancell all our vowes.”
He even does not desire to retain the memory of this love, quite unlike Browning’s lover, who claims the ‘memory’ of his ‘love’, along with a “last ride together”. Drayton’s lover wishes to wipe off their amorous relation altogether. If they ever meet again, on any future occasion, they should behave like strangers to each other and betray not the slightest sign of their former acquaintance and intimacy-
“And when we meet at any time againe
Be it not seene in either of our browes
That we one iot of former love reteyne.”
In an easy and light mood, rather in the strain of a metaphysical poet, Drayton’s lover bids the last farewell to his ladylove. Yet, he does not forget to reveal and emphasize the intensity of his love for the lady. In the third quatrain (rather in the first portion of the sestet), this is particularly brought out by means of a graphic imagery of the last phase of his love. Slighted and ignored by his relentless mistress, his love lies in a state of death. His warmth and passion of love are all discarded and turned out. His faith and innocence, as a lover, prove all futile and helpless. Drayton draws here the image of true love that has no recognition to a proud and whimsical ladylove.
Yet, Drayton’s tone of love is not all despondent. In the concluding couplet, his lover cherishes a hope, rather a fond one, for a turn in the lady’s attitude. He seems to bear still the possibility of their reunion which can, of course, be made possible only by the lady. She alone is capable of averting the impending separation and bringing about a reconciliation at this very last stage, as he had already done all that could be possible for him.
“Now if thou would’st, when all have given him over,
From Death to Life, the might’st him yet recover.”