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Critical Appreciation of "Since There's No Help" By Michael Drayton.

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Introduction

Critical Appreciation: Since There's No Help ~By Michael Drayton~ 'Since There's No Help' is a typical example of Drayton's work, yet it has been solely responsible for plucking Drayton from the general obscurity of Elizabethan sonneteers. It was his one and only "excellent" sonnet, reaching the "highest level of poetic feeling and expression"1 considered to be the "the one sonnet by a contemporary which deserves to rank with some of Shakespeare's best"1. This poem is written in traditional Shakespearian sonnet form, consisting of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is also consistent of a Shakespearean sonnet, being [abab cdcd efef gg]; yet critics are divided as to whether this sonnet can be split into the traditional three quatrains and a rhyming couplet, as with other Shakespearean sonnets. Lemuel Whitaker, in his essay 'The Sonnets of Michael Drayton', argued "many critics have shut their eyes to the sestet". "Now", at the opening of line 9, undoubtedly acts as a Volta, marking a substantial change in tone and causing some critics, including Whitaker, to consider this sonnet as an octave and a sestet, following the Petrachan sonnet form, rather than as a Shakespearian sonnet. ...read more.

Middle

The repetition of "glad" in line three adds power and emphasis. This type of rhetorical device is often used when a poet is trying to convince the reader of his point of view. It also suggests that that the poet is not only trying to persuade the reader, but himself also. From this, it can be inferred that he deeply loves the woman and that his opinion in line four that "so cleanly I myself can free" is not the case. This language appears to be a form of self-deception and a male refusal to admit an emotional problem, which he cannot overcome, and is one that I think many modern audiences could identify with. This attempt to conceal pain and true emotion is also evident in line 8, where the poet's uses the colloquial expression, "one jot", professing to be careless and almost cynical of the power of love. Here, the simplistic language adds poignancy to the words of the poet. While Drayton was one of the sonneteers that indulged in a conventional literary expression, this seemingly male reluctance to admit his pain and loss of control of his feelings for a woman who has rejected him does not fit into this form of sonnet vogue. ...read more.

Conclusion

Drayton associates his railed relationship with his loss of innocence. This may be a reference to how his 'innocent', romantic illusions, possibly consistent with the tradition form of courtly love, have been shattered by this experience. Unexpectedly, the tone again changes in the final couplet. It is only here that Drayton admits that he really doesn't want his relationship and love to "die", he wants he to help them "recover". It is this idea of recovery that provides the reader with an important clue to the 'real' sentiments of the poet. The couplet also implies, that it was not in fact the poet who ended the relationship, but the woman, as it is her that he begs to save it "when all have given him over". While 'Since There's No Help' displays many of the literary conventions of the time, it is by no means a stereotypical 'Courtly Love' sonnet, conveying no real feelings. Considering the context of the poet's life, this poem is probably autobiographical, dedicated to the love Drayton felt for Anne Goodere. I believe that it truly is the "culminating cry of his unrequited passion"5. 1 Sidney Lee, 'The Cambridge History of English and American Literature', http://www.bartleby.com/213/1212.htm 2 http://print.inforplease.com/ce6/people/A0816085.html 3 Lemuel Whitaker, 'The Sonnets of Michael Drayton', http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/whitaker.htm 4 Sidney Lee, 'The Cambridge History of English and American Literature', http://www.bartleby.com/213/1212.htm 5 5 Lemuel Whitaker, 'The Sonnets of Michael Drayton', http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/whitaker.htm ...read more.

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