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"CELIA SINGING: HARKE HOW MY CELIA" Thomas Carew (1640) As did all lyricists, Thomas Carew wrote songs, and he wrote more than one titled "Celia Singing." To differentiate among the songs, critics adopt the first line to follow the title. In "Celia Singing: Harke How My Celia," Carew uses his favored character of Celia. Whether Celia represented a real woman or simply an ideal remains unimportant to Carew's creative process. Greatly affected by the social scene of the court where he lived, Carew could never freely create. He had to write to meet a particular standard, and thoughts of patronage by aristocrats could never be far from his mind. Although the Cavalier poets as a group are deemed less important than poets like their Elizabethan predecessors Edmund Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney, or their contemporaries the metaphysical poets such as John Donne, they produced poetry that sharply reflected the sensibility of Charles I's court, elegant, if not moving, and distinctive, if not original. Carew owed a large debt to the Italian poet Giambattista Marino, whose fantastic lyrical flights influenced English Renaissance and Carolinian poets alike. While the Elizabethan poets may have produced poetry of more substance, they lacked the light modulation in tone in which the Cavalier lyricists excelled, exemplified by Carew's songs.
The speaker of "Celia Singing" begins his 18-line rhyming couplet lyric tribute with a call to onlookers, "Harke," to observe how the "musique of Celia's hand and voyce" work to control natural forces, including the "loude wind" and "wilde / Incensed Bore, and Panther wilde!" Of more interest is the speaker's claim of Celia's power to animate statues and other works of art, a clear message that she acts as the poet's muse, giving life to his words. Carew expresses this in two neatly balanced couplets, admirable also for their gentle but insistent rhythm:
Marke how those statues like men move,
Whilest men with wonder statues prove!
This stiffe rock bends to worship her,
Through the use of opposites and verbal cues such as This and That, Carew suggests his love's power to alter both the natural and the unnatural. Thus, Celia personifies inspiration, literally the act of breathing in, and can grant life to those that are lifeless. She elevates
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