‘Any Summer’s Story’: Poet and Lover
For the remainder of this book I shall concentrate mainly upon the final thirty sonnets in the sequence, 97–126, where, after having come through the crises described in Sonnets 66–96, the poet turns inwards in a self analysis which points towards a final self-possession and self-containment. As a result of their describing this process these sonnets are different in character, and almost in kind, from those which have gone before. In one important sense their peculiarity is the natural result of the abandonment of the sequence’s declared centre of interest so far — the young man. He, and the love the poet feels for him, fade during this part of the sequence into something little stronger than wistful recollection, with, only very occasionally, a flicker of life to make it seem a part of the present rather than a part of history. From sonnet to sonnet the reader perceives, on the poet’s part, the sense of a relationship over and done with, leaving only the scars of remembered emotion; and the atmosphere of things experienced and now only recollected is thickened by the use of images and actions from earlier in the sequence. In Sonnet 99, for instance, the rose makes one more reappearance, but in a narrative poem where its inevitable infection belongs to time past — “A vengeful canker ate him up to death.” In Sonnet 110 the poet returns to the idea that he is inextricably bound to the young man, but now that condition is set in the context of a long and weary experience of the world:
Now all is done, have what shall have no end—
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confined.
KeywordsSexual Appetite Romantic Poetry Love Poetry Narrative Poem Tender Nurse
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© Gerald Hammond 1981