"To Celia" is a poem written by Ben Jonson(1572-1637). When reading into this poem and trying to discern between good love, bad love, or ugly love, I found this poem to have aspects of both good love and bad love. When further pressed to choose between one of the three types of love, I found that good love would be the best answer due to the fact that this poem shows the extremely passionate views from the writer, Ben Jonson. Good love can be shown through many ways, but we often find ourselves trying to put into words how much we love someone and it can often be difficult to do. Ben Jonson does a great job in explaining how much he loves Celia and how just the smallest thing could trigger him to fall completely and hopelessly in love with Celia. It is the type of love where Celia could have complete control over Ben Jonson and it would require little to no effort on her part. This type of control over a person could also be viewed as bad love and that is where I will begin.
First, let us look at why it could be considered a “bad love”. It is bad love because the person writing the poem is so extremely passionate about Celia that you could imagine that person completely focusing on the object of his love and ignoring all other aspects of his life. This type of love is love that has a person so nervous and anxious that one would not eat as much, avoid friends and family, and struggle with job duties. The expression “Hanging by a thread” comes into play with the writer having the hope of obtaining Celia’s love or being completely crushed by her rejection. For anyone who has ever felt this way about someone else or been remotely close to this type of love, you know it is not fun, and it also not something that is controlled easily.
Although I have explained how this poem could be have aspects of bad love, I found the poem to be an example of good love because Ben Jonson’s words are so passionate and endearing that as you read along in the poem, (listed at the bottom of this contribution if you were unable to read for yourself), you find yourself rooting for the person behind the writing in this poem. Ben Jonson really had such a strong affection for Celia that by the time you finish the first sentence, you realize that he is incredibly infatuated with this woman. This love is not the type of infatuation that most people associate with a middle school romance because in that it is such a new emotion between two young people, but the type of infatuation associated with true love at first sight or the love discovered after meeting for the first time. Ben Jonson goes on to show that he is incredibly enamored by this woman. The type of love shown in this poem is the type of love is what I think of when I think of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The type of love that no one single person can hold you back from and that you would do anything to obtain that persons love in return. The writer was clearly “wearing his heart on his sleeve.”
From the first line of "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.", I really felt as if Ben Jonson was writing to Celia in a sort of dream-girl or almost of a Romeo and Juliet sense(Ben Jonson). His words are so passionate that it seems that if Celia would just look at him, kiss him, or even give him any indication that her love was for him, he would be completely hers in an instant. If she would leave him just one kiss, he would be hers forever. He almost seems to be willing to live his life for her with total disregard to anything else in his life. He words are so passionate that it almost feels like there is more love behind his pen than he was able to put to paper.
In the second stanza he writes of sending her flowers and she sent them back to him. In writing "I sent thee late a rosy wreath...but thou theron didst only breathe, and sent'st it back to me; Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, Not of itself but thee!",he did not seem to be worried that she sent the wreath back to him but that of the fact they came back and smelled of her (Ben Jonson). From then on when he saw the flowers and smelled them, they did not smell like roses, but the roses smelled like her. That kind of love for a woman, the kind of love that can replace smells, sights, and other senses with t
he memory of that woman, is something that I think we all aspire to have. The kind of love Jonson speaks of is something most can identify with. Whether it is a current relationship you are in or a past relationship, or even a friend or relative that loves someone else so deeply, we can all identify or aspire to have that much love for someone else.
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 wither'd 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! 1
Jonson, Ben "To Celia" Literature: Craft and Voice, 2nd Ed., Delbanco and Cheuse, McGraw-Hill, p.985. Print. 2012
Jonson, Ben. "To Celia" Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets. 01 June 2012.Web. 03 Sept. 2013 <http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16122>
"Ben Jonson" The Biography Channel website, A&E Networks, Web. 03 Sept. 2013 <http://www.biography.com/people/ben-jonson-40950>