Richard Barnfield (1595) Sonnet 13, based on the classical myth of Echo and Narcissus, shows the growing futility that Daphnis experiences in his pursuit of Ganymede. In the myth, Echo desires to speak her love to the beautiful Narcissus, who seems overly self-important, but because Hera has placed a curse on her, Echo can only repeat what has been said to her. She wastes away on account of a broken heart. In invoking this myth, Daphnis questions, "how may I call my love? (l. 1). The stars find their place of delight in the heavens; gems are admired by those who receive them. Like Echo, however, Daphnis is not able to find words to praise Ganymede's hair. Even beauty itself does not have a name or word to describe it. In a brief allegory, the "Faire virgine-Rose" (l. 10) covers the "milke-white Lilly" (l. 11), an image that speaks to the intimacy of the two lovers. The image, however, seems restrained by the description.
In the final couplet, Daphnis says, "And blushing oft for shame, when he hath kist thee, / He vades away, and thou raing'st where it list thee" (ll. 13-14). The reference here fuses the notions of Echo and Narcissus and Daphnis and Ganymede, both represented in the sonnets as failed lovers. Typical of the sonnet tradition, Richard Barneield uses language to show the limitations of language in conveying meaning. The lack of communication leads to futility and shame.
See also classical tradition; Cynthia, with Certain Sonnets (overview).
Cynthia, with Certain Sonnets: Sonnet 14 ("Here, hold this glove—this milk-white che-verel glove") Richard Barnfield (1595) If Sonnet 13 is in some measure about the failure of language, then Sonnet 14 is about the embedded playfulness of language in revealing a truth of love. The sonnet picks up on a traditional notion of a glove as a token of love and honor, but it employs the image as a pretense for conveying a stronger message: glove turns into love.
The poem itself provides instructions for wearing the glove and an explanation of its meaning. Daphnis begins the poem with "Here" (l. 1), obviously intended to have the accompanying Ganymede pay particular attention to this rare gift, not "quaintly over-wrought" (l. 2), nor "deckt with golden spangs" (l. 3). In contrast, it is described as "wholesome" (l. 4), a fitting tribute to Ganymede, at least according to the giver's understanding of him. In the unfolding drama imagined in this sonnet, Ganymede is apparently about to put the glove on his hand when Daphnis says "Ah no" (l. 5), so that it can be placed over Ganymede's heart as a token of the joining of hearts. Anticipating a less than favorable response from Ganymede in wearing the glove, Daphnis tells him that "If thou from glove do'st take away the g, / Then glove is love: and so I send it thee" (ll. 13-14). The glove becomes the tangible sign of love, a token of affection dating from the medieval romance. For Daphnis, the glove becomes a symbol of his love, and at the same time, it becomes a representation of the true virtues of Ganymede because it is not overly decorated, yet it is hardly plain. In a sense, it is a kind of golden mean between the extremes of plainness and gaudiness. It is a true token of love.
See also Barneield, Richard; Cynthia, with Certain Sonnets (overview).
Daniel E. Pigg
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