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Explication paper on a poem by Christina Rossetti - Essay Example

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Explication paper on a poem by Christina Rossetti

This forcefulness proves important when one considers that, while on the surface the poem can be read as an exchange of polite society, certain indicators allow for a much more ribald interpretation. Through a closer examination of the text, both of these interpretations become apparent.
The narrator establishes both the format of the poem (i.e. the narrator addressing someone referred to as "John") and the back story all within the first quatrain of the poem. "John" teases her daily, despite her disavowal of having ever indicated any affection for him. His actions "wax a weariness" (line 3) upon her, an alliterative description of her growing annoyance that makes a slight reference to the moon (and therefore the menstruation cycle). The fact that he uses such terms as "do" and "pray" - the latter being used synonymously with "please" - seem to imply that despite his childish teasing, he is attempting to behave in a civilized manner. These terms can be inferred to mean that the couple are both connected to upper class society or at least mimic it in order to try for that effect.
The second quatrain begins with the narrator reiterating the first line of the poem, except where initially she claims "I never said I loved you" (line 1) she now states "You know I never loved you" (line 5). She thus innocently asks why he hounds her acting so forlorn, his face pale as "an hour-old ghost" (line 8). While this question abides the general forms of propriety, it would indicate a recent death or change, presumably within the last hour. This recent death can also connote the traditional poetic metaphor of the orgasm as "the little death," which begins to indicate that the narrator may not be as innocent as she appears to be. For while she never "said" the words "I love you", the question of the physical act is now a possibility. This possibility is expounded upon within the third quatrain, in which the narrator suggests two other girls as possibilities for the suitor. Her comment "pray don't remain single for my sake" (line 11) can easily be read as recommending the girls for marriage, yet the implications of the entire stanza are thick with allusions and double entendres. The fact that the narrator refers to "Meg" and "Moll" by first names would indicate one of two things: either the girls are young (or at least juvenile in action and attitude) or they are well known peers of the narrator. In particular, "Moll" could be a reference to Daniel Defoe's heroine "Moll Flanders", a protagonist of "flexible virtue" in regards to her sexual activities. By mentioning that pity is required to help "John", the narrator seems to be teasing him in turn, amused by his distress. By claiming that she "can't perform the task." (line 12), the narrator has chosen an odd, but credible, way of describing the act of marriage as a task: it is made to sound more like a necessary chore. However, when one considers that the phrase "don't remain single" could easily be replaced by the single word "couple", which itself relates to sexual activities, the ramifications leaps from appropriate ...Show more

Summary

Christina Georgina Rossetti's poem entitled "No, Thank You, John" takes its title from the last line of the poem. It summarizes the narrator's attitude in rebuffing a would-be paramour. This is an extension of the theme of the poem, in which the narrator tries both through humor and bluntness to discourage her suitor, finally making a small allowance that "Here's friendship for you if you like; but love,- / No, thank you, John." (lines 31-32)…
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Explication paper on a poem by Christina Rossetti essay example
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