The poet recalls the day he parted with his lover. She never had any affection for him. He believes the sadness he felt then foreshadowed the sadness he feels now. A lot of time passed but even the sound of her name hurts the narrator. He hears about her other affairs and feels hurt. Even if they were to meet he feels he may still be hurt.
Ideas and Themes:
- The poem moves through time, shifting between past, present and future
- The juxtaposition of past and present emphasis that there’s no change in his feelings
- Poem has four 8 line stanzas with a strong ABAB rhyme scheme with regular rhythm
- Rhythm emphasizes words like “Cold” and “Kiss” which highlights his pain
- “They name thee before me, a knell to mine ear”: Towards the end the narrator says the relationship is like death. Emphasizes lack of feeling for him. Name reminds him of the death of their relationship.
- “When we two parted”: The personal pronoun of “we” makes the poem more personal. Contrasts with use of “They name” in stanza 3 showing he felt a bond between him and his lover which made them different from everyone else
- “In silence and tears”: Had nothing to say to each other or the relationship was secret.
- “Half broken-hearted, to sever for years”: Could be they weren’t properly in love or only he was “broken hearted” about the end of the relationship. “Sever” is violent showing it was traumatic and painful for the narrator,
- “Truly that hour foretold sorrow to this”: Enjambment emphasizes past and present link. Ongoing sorrow
- “Sunk chill on my brow”: represent cold feelings towards lover. Coldness between them
- “Light is thy fame”: her reputation is damages because of the awareness of her affairs
- “And share in is shame”: Alliteration of “sh” shows secrecy of relationship
- “I knew thee…Who knew thee….I rue thee”: constant use of thee shows he’s still preoccupied by her; her actions still upset him. “rue” shows he feels regret
- “In silence I grieve”: he mourns relationship as though a loss. Secrecy of relationship
- “That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive”: Accusatory language shows he is angry with her and also blames her for the end of the relationship. He’s still bitter