Interested in Language
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
If thou must love me, let it be for noughtThe rhyme scheme
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile... her look... her way
Of speaking gently, ... for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certs brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day' -
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee, - and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry, -
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity
is ABBA ABBA CDCDCD, isn't it?
Does the word "eternity" rhymes with "thereby" and "dry"?
Here the poet employs a very refined example of assonance for the last couplet of her sonnet.
Here's a telling quote taken from the wiki entry for Assonance:
By "getting the rhyme wrong" on the very last word "eternity" (after being set up by the previous CDCD pattern), Browning crumbles our expectations. What subtle but powerful comment is she making here about love and eternity?
RonBee's understatement is right on the mark: "... it works."
As with any literary term, the real value here lies not in an ability to merely label a poet's use of assonance, but in the ability to recognize a literary technique, understand it in its context, and then catalogue it in the mind so that we may be able to reference the technique for future comparisons, if not actually put it to use in our own writing.
Last edited by Monticello; 24-Mar-2009 at 22:34.