Stanza 7 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Then did I check the tears of useless passion—
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
- Message to our speaker: You better check yourself before you wreck yourself. See, even Victorian poets said the same thing… er, kind of. Basically, she's "checking" or controlling those tears of useless passion that came out of her grief.
- The speaker has made the effort here to keep her passions from consuming her after her loss.
- She's found other ways to sustain and cherish her existence without the joy she once felt, and therefore she's also learned to keep those passions in check.
- She's also "weaned" herself off the habit of yearning for a love that she can no longer have. How very prudent.
- Check out the speaker's diction here in "weaned." The word reminds us of a puppy being weaned off its mother's milk. So the connotations here fit well with the idea of "weaning" a young soul off the loss of love.
- Notice, too, that the rhythm in these lines isn't as slow and dragging as previous lines. There's a sense of strength and determination behind those short syllables that come one after the other in line 25. So just like the slow rhythm we saw in the first stanza that reflected the speaker's sense of lingering and nostalgia, these lines in the opposite way reflect her conviction and strength. Check out "Sound Check" for more.
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.
- She's got even more control and determination by line 27 as she denies those impulses to throw herself into that tomb with her lover. Notice the similar quick rhythm as the previous lines to further her sense of urgency and conviction.
- By this point we've seen yet another change in tone and mood. We're not reading the vulnerable voice we heard earlier feeling burdened by loss and the effects of time. Here we sense her aversion to the passions that made her vulnerable in the first place.
- In a sense, we've seen the speaker grow up right before her eyes. Those young tears of useless passion are now being checked, denied, and have given way to a new kind of strength. Here we come, adulthood.
- The tomb that felt as if was more than hers, because she was so eager to get down there, is no longer pulling her down like it used to.
- At this point then we have a different perspective on the lack of joy and light in the speaker's life. Maybe before we felt bad for her and ready to give up on her ever bouncing back. But here we sense a different speaker, one that's strong even though she lacks that joy she once felt.
- So again we're noticing a unique perspective in the world of elegies, especially elegies written by women in the 19th century.
- Our speaker isn't resigning herself to a life of misery and woe. She's picked herself up and is learning to move forward.
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