This piece was written as the 61st sonnet in a sequence called Idea’s Mirror, published around 1594. The sonnets are addressed to a woman the poet was attempting to woo. Readers of Shakespeare’s sonnets may find similarities between this sequence and Shakespeare’s own 154 sonnets. In fact, the two poets were writing around the same period of time. ‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part’ picks up towards the end of the sequence when the poet has lost hope that he’s ever going to convince the woman he loves to return the emotion.
Explore Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part
‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss, and part’ by Michael Drayton is a love poem that explores a speaker’s complex emotions for someone he cares for.
The speaker spends the first sections of the poem declaring that in the future, he and the person he loves are going to be nothing more than acquaintances. When they meet, their faces will reveal nothing of what used to pass between them. Their separation is final, he alludes, and he’s no longer going to love her like he used to. These lines are filled with determination that Love is tired and dead. But, by the end of the poem, it’s revealed that the speaker is still harboring emotions for her. If she’d like to, he concludes, he could reawaken his supposedly dead love.
Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
In the first lines of ‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part,’ the speaker begins by asserting that he’s done trying to love someone. The intended listener, who he’s been trying to woo for many previous sonnets, has finally defeated him. He states that there’s no way their love is going to work, so they should “kiss and part.” He’s glad, he claims, that all this is over. He wants nothing else to do with her.
But, his constant reiteration of the word “glad” and short, snippy statements feel as though he actually wants the opposite. He’s trying to pretend that he’s ready to give up on the relationship, but he’s really not. The thoughtful line “thus so cleanly I myself can free” ends the first quatrain. Here, he alludes to the fact that this relationship has been trapped in a way. Now that he’s giving up, he can be free again.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
In the second quatrain, the speaker says that they should shake hands, part, and when they meet again, they shouldn’t retain any of the love they might’ve shared. In the future, they’ll be acquaintances and nothing more. It shouldn’t be seen in any of their “brows” that their “former love” exists at all.
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies;
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes—
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!
In the third and final quatrain, the speaker uses personification to depict their love falling apart. “Love’s latest breath” is gasping and his “pulse failing.” This is enhanced by the address to Passion and Faith. The speaker is clearly feeling emotional and trying to assert that the end is here. But, the turn between the twelfth and thirteenth lines reveals the truth of his emotions.
He might want to be able to give up on her, but his love runs too deep. He reveals that if she wanted to, he’d be able to recover his love. That is, despite the fact that he just spent the previous twelve lines asserting that their love is completely dead.
Structure and Form
‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part’ by Michael Drayton is a fourteen-line poem that takes the form of a Shakespearean sonnet. This means that the lines follow a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG. The rhymes are all quite consistent. Plus, the “turn” or volta is where it traditionally falls in these sonnets. That is, between the twelfth and thirteenth lines. Here, a transition is made between the speaker asserting that he’s done with his attempts at love with the intended listener and his admission that if she wanted, they could make it work.
The poem is also written in iambic pentameter, the most common metrical pattern in the English language, as well as that which is usually used in sonnets. It means that each line contains five sets of two beats, the first of which is unstressed and the second of which is stressed. This creates a steady rhythm that has been said to mimic a heartbeat.
Throughout ‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part,’ the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words. For example, “cleanly” and “can” in line four and “Love’s latest” in line nine.
- Imagery: occurs when the poet uses especially interesting and evocative descriptions. For example, “Be it not seen in either of our brows / That we one jot of former love retain.”
- Personification: can be seen when the poet imbues something non-human with human characteristics. This could be an object, animal, or an intangible force. In this case, the speaker personifies “Love,” “Passion,” and “Faith.”
- Caesura: occurs when the poet uses a pause in a line. This might appear at the beginning, middle, or end. It’s created through the use of punctuation or a natural pause in the meter. For example, “And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart” and “When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies.”
Love is the major theme at work in this poem. The speaker’s love for the listener runs deep, and despite his assertions that it’s dead, he reveals at the end of the poem he’d be willing to try again with her if she’d just give him a chance.
The tone is determined at first and then resigned and needy towards the end. The speaker is willing, as he has been throughout the entire sonnet series, to do what he needs to in order to find love with the listener.
The mood is considerate and perhaps empathetic. Readers might find themselves empathizing with the speaker who is so dedicated and emotionally attached to one person.
The poet conveys the idea that in the future if he is determined enough, he can pretend that love never existed between himself and the listener. He also reveals that his love is still possible.
Readers who enjoyed ‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part’ should also consider reading some related poems. For example:
- ‘Sonnet 131‘ by William Shakespeare – a Dark Lady sonnet that addresses the Lady’s complexion and how the speaker loves her.
- ‘Love After Love‘ by Derek Walcott – reassures someone that their life will improve in the wake of a relationship.
- ‘Love Is Not A Word‘ by Riyas Qurana – personifies love and dives into the notion of love and what is needed to maintain it in relationships.