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Song to Celia ("Drink to me only with thine eyes")

Song to Celia ("Drink to me only with thine eyes")

by Ben Jonson

Drinking

Symbol Analysis

"To Celia" is really an extended toast of sorts – it begins with the speaker urging Celia to "drink" to him with her eyes – and drinking plays an important part for a large part of the poem. In particular, the speaker uses drinking and thirst as a metaphor for love or desire. He's helping us understand something spiritual (love) by putting it in terms of something earthly (the necessity for water or drink).

  • Line 1: The speaker tells Celia to "drink" to him only with her eyes. Eyes don't really "drink," and "drink" is a metaphor here for the action of lifting or pledging with one's eyes.
  • Line 2: The speaker says he will "pledge" – offer some kind of toast – with his eyes too.
  • Line 3: The speaker asks Celia to leave a "kiss within the cup." You can't really leave a kiss in the cup in the same way you'd leave an ice cube, so this is most likely a fancy way of saying "kiss the cup" or "leave your lip marks on it."
  • Line 4: The speaker says a kiss is enough for him; he doesn't need any wine. While he could be talking just about wine, it seems probable that he means beverages in general. Wine is here standing in for the whole category of beverages; this is called synechdoche.
  • Line 5: The speaker describes his emotions as a "thirst" that comes from the soul. "Thirst" is here a metaphor for desire, powerful emotion, love, etc.
  • Line 6: The speaker says the soul requires a "drink divine." The speaker isn't talking about a literally "divine" beverage, but rather a show of love from Celia, or something similar. "Divine drink" is a metaphor here.
  • Line 7: The speaker mentions Jove's "nectar," the Greek and Roman gods' favorite drink. "Nectar" is here a symbol of an earthly or mortal beverage, as opposed to the "drink divine" (6) of Celia's love.
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