256 "LOVE ARMED"
Wroth's prose romance The Countess of Montgomery's Urania are songs, including 74, "Love a child is ever crying." Wroth wrote of the perils to virtuous women in dealing with unscrupulous men in matters of romance. One topic she emphasized was the lack of control one may experience over one's passions. Her narrator, Pamphilia, sought to convince her love, Amphilanthus, that he could control his passions but only with the maturity and judgment women were required to exercise. In this song she compares love to a child who, lacking of maturity, makes unreasonable and illogical demands. The title line opens the song, and Pamphilia's first ideas about love follow:
Love, a child is ever crying;
Please him, and he straight is flying;
Give him, he the more is craving,
Her characterization of love as a child also brings to mind the Roman god of love, Cupid, depicted as a winged child. She includes additional allusions to mythology throughout the sonnet sequence.
After making the point that the child's appetite remains endless, and he can never be satisfied, Pamphilia reem-phasizes this idea in the next several stanzas, stressing that "His desires have no measure, / Endless folly is his treasure," noting that he breaks all of his promises and one should "Trust not one word that he speaketh." When applying these characteristics to human passion, Wroth has used the term folly, a word often linked with love in Renaissance poetry. In the third stanza, Pamphilia continues criticizing the untrustworthy love: "He vows nothing but false matter, / And to cozen you he'll flatter." Critics note that Wroth may have intended a pun on the word cozen. While its common meaning is "cheat," she may have also wanted to bring to mind the word cousin. She was involved for many years in an affair with her married cousin, William Herbert, the earl of Pembroke, after a period of financial difficulty that followed the death of her young husband. In this depiction Wroth makes clear that if love gains the upper hand, he will leave, having satisfied his desire. Not only will he desert the sufferer, he will "glory to deceive" her. Her comments were probably autobiographical.
Wroth continues to extend love's comparison to a spoiled child by noting he will enjoy the wailing of others, causing them to fail. She summarizes in the fourth stanza, "These his virtues are, and slighter / Are his gifts, his favors lighter." Love proves worse than worthless, without virtue, gift, or favor. She paints a bleak picture of the state of romance, emphasizing, "Feathers are as firm in staying, / Wolves no fiercer in their preying" than love will be in its destruction. The image of a wolf represents the first truly frightening image of the sonnet, as wolves are hunters that track and surprise their victims. She concludes with approbation, "Nor seek him, so given to flying." Pamphilia's point is clear. When one seeks love, it will surely depart and do so only after wreaking havoc on its victims.
"LOVE ARMED" Aphra Behn (1676) Aphra Behn included several songs in her various dramas, with "Love Armed" first heard in a performance of her Abdelazer; or, The Moor's Revenge, one of about 14 plays written and produced in the 1670s and early 1680s. While Behn had to cease writing plays when the London theaters that produced them suffered a series of financial challenges, she continued publishing her poetry and began a new career writing prose fictions. Among them was Oroonoko, The History of the Royal Slave (1688), a tale, like Abdelazer, with a black character at its center. Seemingly fearless in the face of criticism by her contemporaries for writing openly about sex and marginalized individuals, Behn constantly fought against her era's refusal to view all humans as worthy of dignity and personal freedom.
The song is a simple tale in which the god of love, Cupid, is given the traditional name Love; he is the individual referred to as being "armed" in the song's title. The song will explain just how the deity manages to gather his weapons, freely admitting that he succeeds only because humans allow it. The speaker depicts Cupid in a procession, a "triumph," surrounded by all of those he had wounded with his arrows or darts: "Whilst bleeding hearts around him flowed." He inflicts "fresh pains" and has a "strange tyrannic power," a reference to the power of romantic sex, often associated in song since the Middle Ages, and in later literature, with pain and death.
LOVELACE, RICHARD 257
In the second stanza the speaker clearly connects the idea of tyranny to her passion for her lover and his lack of feelings for her; in other words, she feels betrayed, not by Cupid, but by her lover. The speaker accuses her lover in two lines: "From thy bright eyes he took the fires / Which round about in sport he hurled." In a neat turn Behn depicts Cupid as drawing his power from humans, rather than vice versa. The speaker goes on to admit her complicity in arming Cupid with her own passion: "But 'twas from mine he took desires / Enough t'undo the amorous world." The female equals the male in her capacity for sexual passion, an admission that demure women of Behn's era were socially forbidden to verbalize.
The third stanza offers rhetorical balance, as Cupid takes from the speaker and her lover additional emotions contributing to the speaker's feeling of rejection. While she contributes grief, as well as her passion, her lover's contributions continue to be ones with a negative, even sinful, connotation. Behn shapes him as near-inhuman in his disregard for the speaker, a skillful intersection with Cupid's lack of humanity in lines balanced by pleasing repetition: "From me he took his sighs and tears, / From thee his pride and cruelty." Behn then pursues the perceived inequity of the speaker in two lines that finally equate her lover's cruelty to the physical wounds inflicted by Cupid, as her speaker states of the sources of Cupid's weapons, "From me his languishments and fears. / And every killing dart from thee." While in the final stanza of the song the speaker clarifies that she and her lover have armed their own enemy, and worse, "set him up a deity," she alone is victimized: "But my poor heart alone is harmed, / Whilst thine the victor is, and free." The male character is perceived as victorious, while the female speaker remains a victim, albeit partially as a result of her own efforts.
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