Sunday, August 7, 2011

When to Her Lute Corinna Sings - Thomas Campion

When to her lute Corinna sings,
Here voice revives the leaden strings,
And doth in highest notes appear
As any challenged echo clear;
But when she doth of mourning speak,
Ev'n with her sighs the strings do break.

And as her lute doth live or die,
Led by her passion, so must I:
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring;
But if she doth of sorrow speak,
Ev'n from my heart the strings do break.

The marvelous repetition of the last line of each sextet is what really brings this poem together for me.  The song-like rhythm fits with the subject matter of the poem, and the rhymes are even couplets.  The last line being close to the same in each repetition effectively paints the relationship between speaker and listener.  The speaker in the poem is the listener in the situation, whose heart breaks in sync with Corinna', hence the repetition, once from the view of the singer, once from the view of the listener.

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