‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer dates back to the Renaissance period. As the title of the poem says, the poem is all about the human mind. Here the poet subjectively presents his view regarding the working of his mind. The poem is a living specimen of the inner workings of Dyer’s creative mind. There is a sense of peace and satisfaction in the poet’s life with all that he has. Among all such things, the most important possession of his life in his mind. That’s why he compares it to his imaginary “kingdom”.
‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer is a poem that talks about the beauty of the human mind. The poet throws light into his mind to bring out the importance of it as a whole. In the poem, the poet doesn’t seek worldly things as he has the most precious of all, the mind. He is the sole ruler of this kingdom and there’s no threat from someone capturing it. At times, he felt dejected to see what others have. But, his mind rejected such ideas and helped him to remain content with his extraordinary possessions namely, his creativity and poetic imagination.
Becoming happy with what he actually had, made him stronger gradually. Presently, there is no fear in his mind. The poet lives his life to the fullest and at last, he expresses his inner happiness by saying, “Thus do I live; thus will I die;/ Would all did so as well as I!”
‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer consists of eight stanzas and each stanza contains six rhyming lines. The poet uses a conventional rhyme scheme in the poem. Each line of the poem is intricately packed with verbal energy and flawless diction. The ABABCC rhyme scheme helps the poet to maintain this energetic flow throughout his poem. The rhyme scheme gives each stanza the quality of a sestain. However, structurally each stanza has a rhyming quatrain and ends with a rhyming couplet.
The metrical composition being a Renaissance poem is regular. The meter scheme creates a sonorous flow in the poem. In the poem, each line contains eight syllables and the stress falls on the second syllable of each foot. By dividing the syllables into four feet, the poem becomes an ideal composition of the iambic tetrameter. There aren’t any variations in the poem. It is totally composed of the iambic meter. As the poet speaks about positivity and expresses his happiness in this poem, the iambic sound scheme or the rising rhythm caters to his versification needs the most.
‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer is a poem that showcases several literary devices. Those devices help the poet to insert his feelings into the words and make each line of the poem more appealing to the readers. Likewise, in the first line, the poet uses “kingdom” as a metaphor. He compares his mind to a kingdom as he has the sole right to rule it like a king. The poet uses hyperbaton in the next line and this device is present in several lines of the poem.
The lines beginning with the same word contain anaphora. As an example, the third and fourth lines in the first stanza contain anaphora since both of the lines begin with “That”. The poet uses personification in the first stanza to present the earth and his mind as living beings.
The poet uses several litotes in the second stanza. There is a synecdoche in “loving eye” and “shape” represents a metonymy in the same line. Some lines in the poem act as an epigram. Likewise, “I see those which are aloft/ Mishap doth threaten most of all” contains an epigram. The poet also uses alliteration in the poem. As an example, “my mind” and “wily wit” are alliterations.
The fifth stanza contains an important literary device called the antithesis. The poet uses it in these lines, “They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;/ They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.” However, the last stanza uses “health” as a metaphor and presents it as his greatest “wealth”. By using a rhetorical exclamation tinged with irony the poet takes leave of a reader’s mind.
Stanzas One and Two
MY mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to feed a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all.
‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer presents the poet’s state of mind in the first stanza. The poet is content with what he has and he sees his mind as a “kingdom”. That’s there is no need to seek any worldly pleasure elsewhere. The poet is always in a blissful state for control over his mind.
In the second stanza, the poet says that he doesn’t seek any kind of victory. There is no need for pomposity, wealth, or force in his life. Even he hasn’t any craving to please a lady with his physicality. Those things can’t enslave the poet as his “mind doth serve for all”.
Stanzas Three and Four
I see how plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those which are aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all:
They get with toil, they keep with fear:
Such cares my mind could never bear.
Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
In the next two stanzas, talks about the “hasty climbers” of the human race. Those men never find happiness in the present moment. There is always a fear of losing larking over their minds. The poet needs not to worry about such things as he is content with his life. What he lacks, his mind refills. Thus the poet triumphs like a king whom nobody can dethrone.
Stanzas Five and Six
Some have too much, yet still do crave;
I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.
I laugh not at another’s loss,
I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
My state at one doth still remain:
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.
In the fifth stanza, the poet presents some beautiful ideas in the last two lines. The overall idea is that the poet is in an eternal state of happiness for control over his mind. For seeking what the poet really deserves, maintain his balance of mind.
The poet has walked far from all the worldlines that the materialistic world stores. He doesn’t even loathe life and there is no fear of death in his mind.
Stanzas Seven and Eight
Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
Their wisdom by their rage of will;
Their treasure is their only trust,
A cloakèd craft their store of skill;
But all the pleasure that I find
Is to maintain a quiet mind.
My wealth is health and perfect ease,
My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,
Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!
In the last two stanzas, Dyer talks about weighing pleasure by one’s lust. Lust and pleasure aren’t complementary in nature. However, for the raging desires in one’s heart, the person forgets about the peace of mind. The poet prefers it the most and what he desires to maintain the calmness of mind.
The poet says his wealth is his greatest wealth and his conscience acts as the “chief defense”. So there isn’t any internal or external threat to his mental kingdom. In the end, the poet ironically says if others might have followed the path of the poet they would be happy like him. In reality, only a few understand it.
‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer is a Renaissance poem and sufficiently reflects the spirit of the age. He was a contemporary of William Shakespeare and famous for his poetic works. However, in this poem, the idea of “homocentrism”, one of the famous themes of the age, is reflected by the thoughts of the poet. The comparison of the mind to a kingdom makes it clear that a human mind possesses exceptional power and resources. One has just to discover it and he will be the ruler of his mind. External forces like fate or divine objects have no control over a human mind.
Like ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’ by Sir Edward Dyer the following poems also reflect on the power of the mind and its impact on one’s life.
- The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing by Marianne Moore – In this poem, Marianne Moore talks about the nature of the human mind.
- Heart and Mind by Edith Sitwell – The poet, Edith Sitwell metaphorically presents the connection between the heart and mind.
- Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore – Here the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore talks about the fearless state of mind and its impact on a person’s life.
- Mindless by Dillon Bloomer – Here, the poet Dillon Bloomer presents the abstract nature of the mind.
You can read about 10 of the Best Poems about Life here.