Classics: Song: To Celia (Drink to me only with thine eyes)

The writing of the Renaissance called and I answered. If you’re unaware, this is the period of Shakespeare, Donne, Herreck, Marlow, Queen Elizabeth I, and King Henry VIII.

This charming piece I think sums up the intoxicating feeling you have when there’s someone whom you adore, that you feel almost drunk off the slightest attention or even a glance. There’s a thirst, a yearning really, for the Other that cannot seem to be quenched. We have all had that feeling at some time or another, I’m sure. Then, since love doesn’t always seem to go exactly we want, we find that the speaker finds this yearning love seems to be unrequited. He’s placed her on a pedestal above all others and given her a token of his love that he hopes will live forever. She sends it back and although (for him) that token doesn’t wither and even takes on more of her in now filling his world with the fragrance of her, she has nonetheless chosen not to be his chosen.

Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic or a masochist, but I love this piece. It’s sweet and sad. In 16 lines we feel blissful love and heartache.

Ah! A beautiful tragedy.

I don’t know what brought it to me tonight. I only knew that I was looking for Ben Johnson, and when I saw this winking up at me I knew.

. . .

Song: To Celia (Drink to me only with thine eyes)

By Ben Johnson

Drink to me only with thine eyes,

And I will pledge with mine;

Or leave a kiss but in the cup,

And I’ll not look for wine.

The thirst that from the soul doth rise

Doth ask a drink divine;

But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,

I would not change for thine.

.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,

Not so much honouring thee

As giving it a hope, that there

It could not withered be.

But thou thereon didst only breathe,

And sent’st it back to me;

Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,

Not of itself, but thee.

18 thoughts on “Classics: Song: To Celia (Drink to me only with thine eyes)

  1. Robert Herrick

    To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

    Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old Time is still a-flying:
    And this same flower that smiles to-day
    To-morrow will be dying.

    The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
    The higher he’s a-getting,
    The sooner will his race be run,
    And nearer he’s to setting.

    That age is best which is the first,
    When youth and blood are warmer;
    But being spent, the worse, and worst
    Times still succeed the former.

    Then be not coy, but use your time,
    And while ye may, go marry:
    For having lost but once your prime,
    You may for ever tarry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok. You got me to get out my favorite book of English poets. A book that my mother gave me from her high school. The copyright is 1905. When I start reading in it, I start reading every poem in the book. The 1 page to the 10 page ones. Thanks! Just when I needed something else in my life to keep me busy.

    Liked by 1 person

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