Jenny Kiss’d Me

Leigh Hunt

‘Jenny Kiss’d Me’ by Leigh Hunt is a powerful declaration of happiness in the face of the passage of time. A great deal of joy can be found in a single happy memory, the speaker suggests. 


Leigh Hunt

Nationality: English

Leigh Hunt was an English poet and critic. He also wrote essays.

He co-founded the publication The Examiner and edited magazines like The Reflector.

Key Poem Information

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Central Message: Time cannot dissipate the influence of happy memories

Themes: Aging

Speaker: Unknown

Emotions Evoked: Gratitude, Passion

Poetic Form: Block Form

Time Period: 19th Century

The passage of time is universally unavoidable, Hunt notes in this poem, but a single event in his speaker's life makes this fact seem incredibly small

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 Hunt

Jenny 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.
Jenny Kiss’d Me by Leigh Hunt


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. 

Literary Devices 

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. 

Detailed Analysis 

Lines 1-4

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. 

Lines 5-8 

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. 


What is the theme of ‘Jenny Kiss’d 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. 

What is the purpose of ‘Jenny Kiss’d Me?’ 

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. 

What is the tone of ‘Jenny Kiss’d Me?’ 

The tone is strong, determined, and passionate. The speaker cares deeply about the simple kiss Jenny bestowed upon him, and he asserts his feelings with confidence and determination. 

Why did Leigh Hunt write ‘Jenny Kiss’d Me?’ 

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. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Leigh Hunt poems. For example:

  • The Glove and the Lions’ – depicts how dangerous games of love are when they’re played in the courts of kings.
  • Abou Ben Adhem’ – is a religious poem that depicts Christian beliefs and ideas. 

Poetry+ Review Corner

Jenny Kiss’d Me

Enhance your understanding of the poem's key elements with our exclusive review and critical analysis. Join Poetry+ to unlock this valuable content.
Leigh Hunt (poems)

Leigh Hunt

There is currently no rating and description for the tag of Leigh Hunt.
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19th Century

This is a 19th-century poem that's rarely read today but is a wonderful example of the themes and subject matter it's interested in. It's well-worth reading, even though it's not highly influential.
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Leigh Hunt was an English poet and critic who is less-commonly read than some of his contemporaries. This is one of his better-known poems, but is still not considered highly influential on English poetry.
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Aging is certainly one of the most important themes in this poem. The poet indicates that the speaker is getting older and that time is taking things away from him. But it can't take the kiss that Jenny gave him.
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Gratitude is an important emotion felt in this short 19th-century poem. The speaker feels gratitude for Jenny's kiss, especially as it continues to bring him joy many years later.
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The speaker's passion should be easily interpreted by readers, despite the poem's short length. The speaker feels a great deal about the subjects he alludes to, including sorrow about the passage of time and a love for his memory of Jenny.
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Beautiful Women

This is an very short poem that only briefly alludes to the relationship that the speaker had, or didn't have, with a woman named Jenny. But, from the value the speaker places on her kiss, it's safe to assume that he thought this woman was beautiful.
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The speaker indicates that he's very well aware of everything that's changed in his life since he was young. He's sadder now and less healthy. He's also forced to contend with the troubles of aging. But, despite all the negative changes, one thing that hasn't changed is his memory of Jenny's kiss.
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While the poem does not solely focus on kissing, a kiss is one of the poet's major images. Jenny kissed the speaker for one reason or another, and he still feels incredibly thankful for this happy memory.
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The speaker describes how many things have been lost, including his health and youth. But he knows (or at least he hopes) that his memory of Jenny's kiss will never disappear.
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The speaker's memory of a single kiss with a woman named Jenny is a memory that helps him endure the many troubles associated with aging. This memory, he says, is always going to be there to make him feel some degree of happiness.
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Time is the most important topic at work in this short poem. The speaker alludes to the passage of time and even addresses "Time" directly. He tells Time that it can take everything away from him besides his happy memory of a kiss.
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Block Form

This short eight-line poem is contained within a single stanza, meaning it is written in block form. This works out quite well, considering the poem's length and simple acknowledgement of universal themes.
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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

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