HEART" Sir John Suckling (1648) "I Prithee Send Me Back My Heart" was published after the suicide of Sir John Suckling in the posthumous collection Fragmenta Aurea. In a fashion poets typical of the cavalier the five four-line stanzas incorporate hyperbole in an attempt by the speaker to convince a young woman to yield her heart. His tactic is to bid her farewell, in hopes that she will change her mind after having rejected him.
The speaker begins with a bid that his love return to him his heart, "Since I cannot have thine:" adding a faux attempt at logic by noting that if she will not part from her heart, "Why then shouldst thou have mine?" With a moment's thought, however, he changes his mind, bidding her simply to "let it lie." Were he to find his heart, her "thief in either eye" would "steal it back again." Suckling incorporates a metaphysical conceit in the third stanza in imitation of the style of John Donne. The speaker continues his questions, asking:
Why should two hearts in one breast lie And yet not lodge together?
O love, where is thy sympathy,
If thus our breasts thou sever?
Suckling does not assume a serious attitude toward his metaphysical proposition, as did Donne. The double entendre remains as much a physical as a spiritual sentiment. He next incorporates paradox, as the speaker confesses that love remains such a mystery to him he cannot figure it out, "For when I think I'm best resolv'd, / I then am in most doubt." His confusion actually benefits him, as illustrated in the final stanza, where he notes,
Then farewell care, and farewell woe, I will no longer pine:
For I'll believe I have her heart, As much as she hath mine.
Suckling incorporates into his poem the devil-may-care-attitude that distinguished him from other Cavalier poets, who spent multiple lines regretting an impossible romantic situation. At once impudent and sympathetic, the persona of this poem appeals to those who envision love as a state to be enjoyed, not suffered.
IRONY Irony indicates a discrepancy or incongruity, suggesting simply that matters are not as they appear. It may be in the form of verbal irony, in which figurative LANGUAGE/a figure of speech indicates an opposite meaning of what is said. An example of verbal irony may be seen in Ben Jonson's touching tribute to his firstborn son, who died at age seven, "On My First Son." After expressing his grief at his loss, the speaker notes that in the future, "what he loves may never like too much." Obviously one cannot dislike what one loves; Jonson actually suggests that too great a love may have been fatal to the loved one, whereas love generally is believed to be a nurturing emotion. A second type of irony is situational irony, in which the incongruity exists between actual circumstance and what might seem appropriate, or in the case of the following lines from John Donne's "Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward," between what is anticipated and what actually occurs: "And as the other spheres, by being grown / Subject to foreign motions, lose their own." Finally, in dramatic irony a discrepancy exists between what the speaker tells us and what the poem actually means, as in John Dryden's masterful "Mac Flecknoe," a satire meant to belittle the playwright Thomas Shadwell. The speaker supposedly relates an event of great importance, that of the selection by Mac-Flecknoe, a character based on the real-life poet Richard Flecknoe, of his successor to write doggerel. Mac Fleck-noe selects Shadwell to inherit the throne of dullness, suggested by Dryden's insertion in his poem of "Sh—" in place of the honored successor's name. Adopting mock-epic approach with a ridiculous comparison of a second-rate poet to one of the greatest kings who ever lived, Dryden's speaker states with ironic grandeur:
All human things are subject to decay,
And when fate summons, monarchs must obey.
This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young
Was called to empire, and had governed long. (1-4)
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