of Hawthornden (1616) William Drummond of Hawthornden adopts the Petrarchan sonnet form for the poem that begins, "Then is she gone? O fool and coward I!" published among his sonnet collection in his Poems (1616). The male speaker expresses regret over having been foolish and too timid to take advantage of an opportunity for love. Drummond presents an interesting twist on the carpe diem, or seize the day, theme that would, a short time later, become a favorite of Cavalier poets. Rather than bidding a virgin to enjoy love and sex while at her physical peak as the carpe diem pleas would, Drummond's speaker chides himself for not having engaged in that bidding. This complaint will engage the first eight lines of the sonnet, while the concluding six will analyze why the speaker behaved as he did, and how he might alter his future behavior.
The speaker laments the loss of opportunity when he says in the second line, "O good occasion lost, ne'er to be found!" then continues his self-reproach, asking, "What fatal chains have my dull senses bound, / When best they may that they not fortune try?" The speaker recognizes that he has killed his own chance, or fortune, by not having been observant enough to know that he needed to act, but he is not sure exactly what "chained" him. He sketches the scene, reciting,
Here is the flow'ry bed where she did lie, With roses here, she stellified the ground, She fix'd her eyes on this yet smiling pond, Nor time, nor courteous place, seem'd ought deny.
In other words the young lady led the speaker to a perfect setting, the roses acting as a traditional symbol for a sexually active woman, or one prepared to be.
Then readers learn what held the speaker back: "Too long, too long, Respect, I do embrace / Your counsel, full of threats and sharp disdain." The speaker understands that the respect he felt for the would-be lover's virginity has cost him an opportunity. Drummond personifies the abstract idea of respect, using an uppercase first letter, as with a proper name. The speaker listened to the common wisdom that he should not try a young woman, because the consequences were too great to bear. He now knows that his lover did not share his reticence. Drummond skillfully builds momentum with repetition of the word disdain that concludes the 10th line, placing it also at the beginning of the 11th line: "Disdain in her sweet heart can have no place, / And though come there, must straight retire again." He feels that while she may have brief doubts, momentarily sharing his disdain, they depart, because of her naturally sweet heart. The speaker concludes in the final couplet with a vow: "Henceforth, Respect, farewell, I oft hear told / Who lives in love can never be too bold." He will listen to a new common wisdom, trading the respect that made him hesitate and miss an opportunity for love for a new boldness, overcoming his former cowardice. Thus the male ironically overcomes an innocence or naivete that would traditionally be that of a female.
Drummond's sonnet proves highly dramatic, with an intensity that would support the speaking of his lines on stage. The reader can easily imagine an actor playing the distressed young man and, like one of Shakespeare's characters, striding back and forth as he expresses his regret.
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