Now Winter Nights Enlarge
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“Now Winter Nights Enlarge” is one of the best lyrical poems showing the true spirit of Renaissance. Thomas Campion (1567-1620), the poet of this poem, has been Elizabethan court musician. (Davis, 1987; Vivian, 1909) The poem deals with the recreational capacity during harsh climatic times the poem is about delights of long winter night which looks very short owing to the lovely way it is spent. The poem is set in the room lighted with pale lights and warm with wine and young dancing couples. The dancing couples are relishing the delights of winter and they are mesmerized. The poet is one of them provoking them to make the night more colorful. The poem contains the theme that endless winter night can only be shortened if spent in warm and lively way. The poem describes how love makes one feel how enlarge winter night becomes short due to the pleasures which love brings in.
The theme of the poem will be much easier to understand if its appreciated as a happy ballad composed for enthusiastic youth. The poem can be called ” The Best way to spend a winter night” as the poet is telling the gathering to do proper arrangement to spend the long winter night in nicer way. The poem starts with the word “Now” indicating that the time is of night and the poet is talking to the people around him. The verses” let now the chimneys blaze’ and “cup over flows with wine” show that the poet has previous experience of spending long winter nights. The poet is very much sure that this can only be the way to minimize the length of the endless night. So he says, “sleep’s leaden spells remove” when “youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights” warm the night with wine and yellow lights. The message is very clear in the last two verses where the poet himself says clearly,” though love and all his pleasures are but toys, they shorten tedious nights.” The poet expresses the theme that love is powerful enough to turn a long tiresome cold night into a short night full of warmth. The poet describes artistically the magic of wine on the minds of the youth so obsessed with merry making that they forget the length of night and it seems to them very short.
Campion’s poems have to be analyzed closely or they lose their real genius. He composed most of his poems in conventional and ordinary style but still his poems are outstanding due to his mastery in making them musical poems. This poem is one of the lovely songs by Campion published in his Third Book. The poem reflects the Elizabethan Age of musicians when composing musical poems was in vogue. The poem also portrays happy time of Queen Elizabeth’s reign when people were living happy life. Campion was one of the outstanding songwriters of the brilliant English lutenist school of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. So he was skilled enough to compose fine musical piece in the form of “Now winter Nights Enlarge”. In fact he was more than a poet. The poem reflects his musical abilities in its subtle mastery of rhythmic and melodic structure. (Peltz, 1950)
The poem has a strong and steady rhythm and rhyme. It is composed while considering all musical qualities to be imparted in it. The poet strictly follows rhyme scheme in order to maintain its lyrical quality. First verse is rhymed with third verse,” Enlarge with discharge, blaze with amaze, etc”. Whereas the Second verse is rhymed with the fourth verse, for instance” hours with towers, wine with divine, etc. “The selection of word is excellent. Best chosen words are used in such an artistic style that there is no problem while reading it. The diction of the poem is very simple and its expressed in easy style. The sentences are precise and meaningful and verbosity is avoided. The poet has used good syllable which help create harmony in the poem. The poet mesmerizes the reader by creating in the poem an atmosphere warmed with wine and hot breaths of loving couples which makes reader feel everything in real. Critics have tended to base the poet’s reputation on general qualities of energetic syntax, purity of diction, grace, and strength. (Short, R. W.1944) The tone of the poem is very romantic and specially the ending where love conquers the long unending winter night. His style is pure American but he also imitates some classical poets as there is continuity in his poem.
The poet has employed many poetic devices in the poem to make it a masterpiece. He uses symbol of “music” in the poem which empowers one to face anything bitter to any extent. The poet has used fine phrases like,” overflow with wine”,” well-tuned words”, and “lover’s long discourse”. The use of imagery is very common in the poem, for instance “yellow waxen lights”, comely tread”, and “courtly sights and masques”. The poet has also used metaphors in the form of “tedious nights”, knotted riddles”, sleep’s leaden spells”, and winter nights enlarge”. The poet personifies love and uses masculine possessive “HIS” for love. Symbolism is much used in the poem. There are many symbols like, symbol of night, music, light, winter, summer and loves.
The poem is, no doubt, a masterpiece due to its top lyrical qualities. The poet creates such a feeling in the reader that he feels intoxication of the wine and he enjoys the company of the gathering discussed in the poem. The poet has nicely compared “joys of summer” with ” winter’s delights”. The poet in conclusion admits that love and its all pleasures are things which help one face difficulties and problems in life and its all up to the person how he uses this toy of love. The poem brings back the reader to 16th and 17th centuries when people had so happy life to live. The poem also describes that happiness and contentment is not bought always, but its achieved if one has pure desire for it. The poem also expresses the theme that this life seems to be shorter than the day to a lover who wants many centuries to spend in love. The poet is rather successful in making this poem so poignant and touching that reader feels himself part of it.
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Davis, Walter R. Thomas Campion. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987
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Language Quarterly 11 (1950), 3-6.
Short, R. W. “The Metrical Theory and Practice of Thomas Campion.” Publications of
the Modern Language Association 59 (1944), 1003-18.
Vivian, Percival. “Introduction.” Campion’s Works. Percival Vivian, Ed.
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