John Suckling is perhaps one of the greatest examples of a great 17thcentury English poet. His cavalier style of writing is renowned for it for its carefree style and use of love and life as most cavaliers wrote about. Many of his poems have become famous, and are still read, analyzed and praised even today. When looking at his literature and glancing through his poems, sonnets, and pamphlets there is one that surely cannot be overlooked. His poem titled Song, a masterpiece on Love, thorough its tone, meaning, and form is one of the best examples of the Cavalier style in existence.
Sir John Sucklings’ poem song, has a very carefree and “go with the flow” attitude typical of a 17th century cavalier. The poem also has a light tone, which emphasizes a cavalier’s beliefs. Suckling bases his poem on the mysteries of love, and how he cannot figure it out. The tone starts out quite serious. He is angry a woman for not answering his love. Suckling appears to be hurt, and confused by love. However he then erases any thought of bitterness towards love and life continuing to say is not entirely important, and that life is to short to dwell on one love and he is asking simply for his heart back, in order to move on. He has given up his care for the woman and for the troubles she has caused, rather than to write about how much he misses love. This in a way creates a feeling and tone of artificiality, a tone often expressed by Suckling. “Then Farewell Care, And Farewell Woe.” This recurring theme emphasizes the need to move on in life, and how life can find joy even from a sad situation.
Suckling’s opening line quotes “I prithee send me back my heart, since I cannot have thine” The line jumps right into its meaning. He states how he is so in love with a girl that he cannot stand it. This is ironic because as the cavalier attitude states, if one cannot have a girl, there is a hundred other who can take her place. “Sir John Suckling’s poem illustrates how love was more of a game for gentlemen to play without losing their hearts or noble poise.” (Morris) “The Cavalier poets wrote that if a lack of love is present, a replacement could easily be found. One of these poets was Sir John Suckling” (Kunitz) “A classic showing of Cavalier literature can be found in Sir John Suckling’s “Song.” Through the poem Suckling tells another fellow about the fickleness of courtly love” (Haycraft) It seems almost amazing to see how someone who has as strong feelings towards a woman as Suckling does can write about losing them without the faintest of cares. It’s clearly the main theme of this poem, and the way in which love can so easily be forgotten is truly an example of Carpe Diem”
Lastly when examining Suckling’s poetry, and comparing to other cavalier poetry, it is seen that the form he writes in is again in the true spirit of the cavaliers. First off Suckling writes in a style of directness, and his verses are somewhat witty. His verses rhyme, a style traditional to the cavaliers. Another aspect, which is important to the form of Sucklin’g poems, is he detail to courtly matters. . “His poetry embodied the life and culture of upper-class, pre-Commonwealth England, mixing sophistication with naïveté, elegance with raciness. Writing on the courtly themes of beauty, love, and loyalty, they produced finely finished verses, expressed with wit and directness. (Marvell) “The cavaliers wrote about intense physical affairs.” (Marvell) As previously stated they write in a light manner about the events of the English upper-class lifestyle. His themes could be easily related to anyone in society. “Cavalier poets instead wrote about loyalty, love, drink, beauty, and time in a light and amorous verse.” (Morris) This form is seen in Suckling’s poem and represents the Cavalier style.
In Conclusion, there are many great aspects of the Sir John Suckling’s poem “song”. When broken down it is possible to see its carefree style, and at times artificiality unique to the cavaliers. Its tone, theme and form including the poems lightheartedness, and conclusion on love furthermore classify it to be a true cavalier masterpiece. It portrays a fine example of the dieing spirit of the cavalier, and the Carpe Diem style in which they wrote in.
Courtney from Study Moose
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