Below you can find the full poem and part of an analysis of Renouncement by Alice Meynell. The poem has quite an interesting concept. The speaker is thinking about someone, but she’s trying so hard not to, which requires a lot of strength and mental stability. We’ve all been in situations when our brain is fixating on something we don’t want to, aren’t we?
I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
I shun the thought that lurks in all delight –
The thought of thee – and in the blue heaven’s height,
And in the sweetest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the fairest thoughts that throng
This breast, the thought of thee waits hidden yet bright;
But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away, –
With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.
Thee – archaic form of you
Shun – avoid, ignore or reject
Lurks – be or remain hidden so as to wait in ambush of something/someone
Throng – (of a crowd) fill or be present in
Bonds – a relationship between two people, join or be joined
Doff – to remove (an item of clothing)
Raiment – an archaic term for clothing
Thinking of you is something I should resist to do; though it requires both strength and fragility to maintain this, I ignore the thought of you that secretly lingers – though the thought of you is comparable to the light of heaven, and can be heard in the most delightful of melodies. The kind thoughts I have of you pulsate deeply in my heart and like a small flame; this desire quietly burns bright; this desire must never be loud or boastful; instead, I need to stop myself from being engulfed in these thoughts. Though when sleep arrives, and when the night draws in where I wait for you, and everything I’ve done to grip this love close to me comes apart, must come away as I remove my clothing for night’s sleep – in my dreams, I run to you because I am tethered to your heart.
Sonnet – this poet uses a sonnet form to describe the love she has for her husband. Sonnets are used to explore ideas on love and relationships. With the sonnet form, we see the writer using it to organise her thoughts; the first quatrain shows resistance to him but then an admission of the depth and intensity of her love for him, and the next quatrain explores how thought she feels these strong feelings she must resist to let them overtake, the final quatrain shows how difficult she finds it without him, where the couplet takes its natural turn and demonstrates how she revels in her love for him in her sleep, where they finally meet.
Rhyme – the poem uses an abbaabbacdbcdb rhyme with the use of iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme creates consistency in the narrative where the reader can see the connections between the speaker’s experiences and emotions.
Plosives – ‘height, delight, song, throng, beyond, bright, sight, apart, heart’ – the use of plosives creates a sense of harshness to the words which reverberate in the sentence, we can make a connection to some of these more abrupt sounds that reflect her emotions.
Watch the full poem breakdown in the video below: