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Elegy For Himself

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Introduction

Tichborne was not even thirty when he was executed and his bitterness at his life ending almost before it is begun can be seen. 'And now I die and now I am but made:' He was sentenced to death for being part of a Catholic plot to murder Elizabeth. He wrote this poem just three days before he was to meet with death. The tone of Tichborne's poem is one of regret and sorrow that his life is being ended before it's time and that what is left of his life will be very unpleasant. In Elegy For Himself we can tell that its verses are sextains - six lined verses with a rhyming scheme ababcc. What is both interesting and unusual in Tichborne's structure is the strength of the caesura in every line - the pause in the middle of a metrical line. ...read more.

Middle

This line squeezes a lot of meaning into a very short space. 'My feast of joy', another image used by the poet probably refers to the fulfilling religious aspect to his brief life. This 'feast' is an obvious contrast to the far smaller-sounding 'dish of pain'. It may be that this has added meaning, as what I feel that the poet is trying to communicate is that though his life was short, and though he hadn't done all that he had hoped to, the huge 'joy' he gained from religion more than compensated for the pain of his execution. Tichborne also utilizes a rhyming couplet at the end of each verse (stanza) to emphasize these lines "My crop of corn is but a field of tares." This is saying his crop of corn, i.e. his life, his achievements, and the things which he has to his name, are now worthless. ...read more.

Conclusion

The grave but not yet depressing music of the lines is emphasised by the repetition of the line, which ends all three stanzas: "And now I live, and now my life is done." This line creates a sense of doom, and death, as though the poet were anticipating the slow tolling of the bell announcing his death. This poem does not try to gain the reader's sympathy; it is more about the author accepting what he has done wrong. He has accepted that he will be executed, and now he is trying to prepare for it. There is a tight rhyming structure to this poem. The pattern goes: ABABCC, ABABCC, etc, throughout the stanzas. This tight rhythmic structure shows how the decision is made that he is going to die, and nothing can be done, except to accept it. There is no wandering outside of the structure, which represents the way the writer is feeling; he is not going to wander in and out of thinking that there might be some hope for him being saved. ...read more.

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