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Analysis


Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

We're about to throw a lot of poetry vocab at you, so brace yourself. "To Celia" actually has two different meters: iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. Let's start with "iambic." An "iamb" is an...

Speaker

The speaker of "To Celia" is like your buddy. Imagine, who's really into writing poetry. He likes to test out new metaphors (his latest one involves a comparison between flirting and drinking) wear...

Setting

Imagine it's 1616 and that you're in London. You're inside a dimly-lit but cozy tavern, with two other patrons. Outside, it's cold and damp – typical London weather. The fire is starting to burn...

Sound Check

"To Celia" sounds like both a toast and a song that you would sing to a woman you love (we're sure that you could substitute a guy's name for "Celia" and sing it to man too – maybe Cesar or Charl...

What's Up With the Title?

Ben Jonson (with no "h") wrote at least two poems called "Song to Celia" (or "To Celia" for short), so there must have been something about that name that he really liked. (Shmoop thinks Celia is a...

Calling Card

Ben Jonson was a very book smart poet and didn't mind showing off his fat brain. As a child he was trained by a famous classical scholar (William Camden), and he was praised by contemporaries for h...

Tough-o-Meter

"To Celia" isn't really a difficult poem; there are a few references that may need some explaining (like Jove in line 7), but other than that it's pretty straightforward. The vocabulary is a bit ol...

Trivia

Ben Jonson murdered a fellow actor – one Gabriel Spencer – in a duel in 1597. He did some hard time for that one, but eventually got out and continued to write (source).Ben Jonson wrote a play...

Steaminess Rating

There really isn't anything super steamy about "To Celia," Yes, there is a guy who wants a girl, and he talks about drinking, but the poem is really about emotions, feelings, love, that sort of thi...

Allusions

Philostratus, Letter XXIV (1-4)Philostratus, Letter XXV (5-6)Philostratus, Letter XXX (9-12)Philostratus, Letter XXXI (13-16)Lady Mary Wroth – It is not known for certain if Celia is Lady Mary Wr...
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