This is a simple and highly relatable poem that speaks on themes of love, the passage of time, and aging. The poet addresses these universal topics in a way that makes the poem easy to read and hard to forget.
Hunt is an 18th and 19th century author who is far less commonly read today than many of his contemporaries. Despite this, his work is well worth exploring; other poems like ‘The Glove and the Lions’ and ‘A Thought of the Nile’ are beautiful examples of his verse.
Jenny Kiss'd Me Leigh HuntJenny kiss’d me when we met,Jumping from the chair she sat in;Time, you thief, who love to getSweets into your list, put that in!Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,Say I’m growing old, but add,Jenny kiss’d me.
Explore Jenny Kiss’d Me
‘Jenny Kiss’d Me‘ by Leigh Hunt is a passionate poem about the passage of time.
The poet’s speaker describes a simple yet incredibly impactful kiss he received from a woman named Jenny in the first two lines. This kiss is something that’s stayed with him long after the moment itself. He also spends time in this poem addressing Time, telling the force that it can take away his life and his health, but it can’t remove this incredibly happy memory from his heart. He thinks about the kiss whenever he’s feeling sad, the poem implies, and it brings him a great deal of joy.
Structure and Form
‘Jenny Kiss’d Me by Leigh Hunt is an eight-line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. This means that the poem is written in block form (all the lines are contained within a single block of text). The poet uses a simple rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD in the eight lines of this love poem. It is very easy to spot and makes each line of the poem feel more emphatic. There are also examples of exact rhymes in this short poem, for example, “in,” which is used at the end of lines two and four, as well as “me,” which ends lines six and eight.
In this piece, Hunt uses a few different literary devices. For example:
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “Jenny” and “Jumping.”
- Caesura: an intentional pause in the middle of a line of verse. For example, “Sweets into your list, put that in!”
- Personification: occurs when the poet gives something non-human a human characteristic. For example, in the first few lines, the poet writes that time is a thief.
- Apostrophe: an address to something or someone that cannot hear or understand the speaker. For example, “Time, you thief” in line three.
Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
In the first lines of this unique, short poem, the speaker begins by using the phrase that is also utilized as the title: “Jenny kiss’d me.” The speaker notes that a woman named Jenny kissed him when they “met.” This woman jumped up from her chair and kissed him with affection.
The poet refrains from adding any other details to this interaction. The simplicity of the description suggests that the speaker knows what happened wasn’t a big deal, but by mentioning it at all, they’re indicating that it meant a lot to them.
Like Wordsworth thinking about the scenes around Tintern Abbey, the speaker in this poem thinks back to the moment that Jenny kissed him when he considers all the terrible and unavoidable things that have happened to him in his life. It brings him joy even now that the moment is long since over.
The poet’s speaker uses an apostrophe in the third line, addressing time and using personification to call it a “thief.” This short description adds a great deal to the poem. It turns the reader’s attention from the kiss to the passage of time and the poet’s real focus—aging and the passage of time.
As one ages, the poem suggests, a great deal is lost and forgotten, but, for the speaker, their kiss from Jenny is always going to stay with them. The speaker addresses time, telling it to put the kiss “into your list” of things that have happened, were meaningful, and which have passed. Luckily, the speaker can remember the moment forever, as the next lines add.
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.
The final four lines summarize what the reader probably already feels about the speaker, that they are aging and are distraught over the loss of youth and love. But, even in their weariest, saddest moments, they can remember that “Jenny” kissed them. They may not have lived a wealthy life or been particularly healthy and robust, but they do have this one thing that other people do not.
The speaker continues to address time in these lines, using the word “Say” three times in a row (an example of anaphora). He tells “Time” to “Say” all these things have happened. By using these lines, he’s admitting each element of his life. It’s easier to understand this passage if one imagines the lines as saying, “You can say I’m weary,” or “sad,” or without wealth, but you can’t say that Jenny didn’t kiss me.
The theme of this poem is the passage of time and how, despite all that’s lost as one ages, happy memories provide a refuge. Even in the saddest moments of this speaker’s life, he can look back on his kiss with Jenny and feel pride and happiness.
The purpose of this short poem is to remind readers that time can take a great deal away, but it can’t pretend that Jenny never kissed this speaker or that other equally important things happened to anyone else, reaching the end of their life.
While one can never say for sure why a poet wrote a poem, it seems likely that Hunt wrote this poem to declare a simple message about the passage of time and how it impacts individuals.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Leigh Hunt poems. For example: