‘Love, a child, is ever crying’ is part of a sonnet sequence called Pamphilia to Amphilanthus. The songs in the sonnet sequence convey a conversation in which Pamphilia, a lady, tries to convince Amphilanthus, a man, that love needs to be controlled. This song, in particular, Song: “Love, a child, is ever crying”, explains the reasons why Amphilanthus needs to be careful.
The main theme of Song: “Love, a child, is ever crying” is the nature of Love. Nevertheless, the poem doesn’t have an innocent view of love and serves as a warning of its nature. The tone of the poem is hurtful and cynical. Moreover, the lyrical voice seems relatively emotionless at some points of the song due to the advice she is giving to Amphilanthus.
Song: Love, a child, is ever crying Analysis
LOVE, a child, is ever crying;
Please him, and he straight is flying;
Give him, he the more is craving,
Never satisfied with having.
The first stanza depicts the nature of love. Love is personified as a baby (“LOVE, a child”) that can never be pleased (“ever crying”). The lyrical voice describes how Love is always demanding more attention (“Please him, and he straight is flying;/ Give him, he the more is craving). Nevertheless, Love is “Never satisfied with having”. This stanza presents the impact of Love and how it is always in need of more. Notice that the tone has an emotionless feel, as it seems like very well thought advice. This can also be read in the regularity of the rhythm of the stanza, which suggests no intense emotional outbreak. Moreover, ‘Love, a child, is ever crying’ seems to be creating a trait of the men of Wroth’s time (the 17th century).
His desires have no measure;
Endless folly is his treasure;
What he promiseth he breaketh;
Trust not one word that he speaketh.
The second stanza furthers the idea of the previous lines. Love is still personified as a greedy child with desires that “have no measure”. This emotion can’t be measured and leads to foolish acts (“Endless folly is his treasure”) by searching for the unreachable. Furthermore, the following lines of the stanza suggest that Love is inconsistent and “What he promiseth he breaketh”. Love should not be trusted, as it acts like a child who plays tricks and breaks promises. Although Love is personified, its character gradually acquires a more negative view throughout the stanzas. The tone of the stanza is hurtful, as it seems that the lyrical voice speaks from experience. Again, the regular form emphasizes the content of the words rather than its emotions.
He vows nothing but false matter;
And to cozen you will flatter;
Let him gain the hand, he’ll leave you
And still glory to deceive you.
The third stanza of ‘Love, a child, is ever crying’ emphasizes broken promises. The lyrical voice talks about broken vows and how Love “vows nothing but false matter”. Again, it is said that love can’t be trusted, as it flatters you (“And to cozen you will flatter”) but, then, it doesn’t keep its promises (“Let him gain the hand, he’ll leave you”). This idea of broken vows can be linked to marriage and how men promised the world to their future wives but then these vows are not kept. The lyrical voice suggests that Love can’t commit because of its erratic nature. The idea that the lyrical voice talks from experience appears to be accentuated in the stanza, as the tone is more cynical.
He will triumph in your wailing;
And yet cause be of your failing:
These his virtues are, and slighter
Are his gifts, his favours lighter.
The fourth stanza depicts the pain that Love can cause. The lyrical voice shows a scene of suffering as Love “will triumph in you wailing; And yet cause be of your failing:”. Love causes failure because it makes the other person suffer and he/she has no control over the situation. The lyrical voice suggests that this person who fails in Love is also unsuccessful in life. Love enjoys its power and its ability to inflict pain, as this suffering is “his gifts, his favours lighter”.
Feathers are as firm in staying;
Wolves no fiercer in their preying;
As a child then, leave him crying;
Nor seek him so given to flying.
The fifth stanza of ‘Love, a child, is ever crying’ accentuates the unchanging nature of Love. Love is compared to feathers (“Feathers are as firm in staying;”) and to wolves (“Wolves no fiercer in their preying”). With these comparisons, the lyrical voice understands that Love will never change. The response to this is to “leave him crying”. Once again, the lyrical voice returns to the personification of the first stanza and talks of Love as a child. Love can’t change its nature and it is better to leave it “Nor seek him so given to flying”. This final stanza works as advice that the lyrical voice gives to the reader. The lyrical voice shows resentment and pain over Love. Thus, Love is not characterized as a great feeling, but rather the opposite of it.
About Lady Mary Wroth
Lady Mary Wroth was born in 1587 and died in 1653. She was an English Renaissance poet. Lady Mary Wroth was part of a distinguished literary family and she was one of the first female poets to receive an enduring reputation. Her uncle was Sir Philip Sidney, a leading Elizabethan poet, and she was deeply influenced by him. Moreover, her father, Sir Robert Sidney, was also a poet. But, her most important literary influence was Mary Sidney, her aunt, and her godmother. Lady Mary Wroth’s best-known work is The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, a prose romance, and Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, a sonnet sequence. She also wrote Love’s Victory, a pastoral drama.
Lady Mary Wroth transgressed traditional poetic boundaries by writing secular poetry and romances. She was the first woman to write a sonnet sequence and an original work of prose fiction. Wroth’s writing was celebrated by poets of her time, such as Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and Josuah Sylvester. Her first major publication, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, was largely criticized and generated a lot of controversy in 1621. Despite this, Lady Mary Wroth continued to write the second part of her romance, a five-act pastoral drama named Love’s Victory.