‘Thee, Thee, Only Thee’ by Thomas Moore is a three-stanza poem that is separated into sets of eight lines or quatrains. The stanzas could also be divided up further, into one set of three lines and another set of five.
One will immediately notice how the first three lines introduce one aspect of the speaker’s life and the next five define it further. The sections are separated by the line which became the title of the poem and acts as a refrain, “By three, thee, only thee.”
Moore has chosen to further structure this piece through the utilization of a consistent pattern of rhyme. The octaves follow a rhyme scheme of, aabcdcdb, alternating as the poet saw fit from stanza to stanza.
Summary of Thee, Thee, Only Thee
The poem begins with the speaker stating that whenever he wakes up, no matter how beautiful the day, or promising the engagements, he is unhappy. There is a “dark spot” inside his soul which cannot be filled by anyone— other than the woman he loves. She is transforming his life bit by bit.
By this point, he has become overwhelmed by his love. It is bordering on obsession. He speaks on how he used to care about his own “fame.” This used to be the goal of the path he was walking on. That has completely changed at this point though. She has taken him over.
In the final stanza, he speaks on how his life is passing him by and that the woman he loves is the only one who can break the spell he is under. Until they come together he will live with the “dark spot” inside his heart and soul.
Analysis of Thee, Thee, Only Thee
The dawning of morn, the daylight’s sinking,
The night’s long hours still find me thinking
Of thee, thee, only thee.
When friends are met, and goblets crown’d,
And smiles are near, that once enchanted,
Unreach’d by all that sunshine round,
My soul, like some dark spot, is haunted
By thee, thee, only thee.
In the first stanza of this piece the speaker begins by describing the first moments of his morning on a new day and how they are unable to touch the “dark spot” in which he longs for “thee.”
He has awoken to the “dawning of morn,” but it is not bright in the speaker’s world. As soon as he is awake he feels the “daylight sinking.” It is unable to enter his body and energize him for the hours ahead. In fact, the hours of the “long” night are still haunting him. The speaker is unable to shake how he felt in the darkness. His thoughts were not as dark though as they were obsessive.
He is longing for one particular person who is only referred to as “thee.” In the third line of the poem, the speaker repeats this word three times, emphasizing the fact that “thee, thee, only thee,” is the most important person in the world to him. The speaker is clearly obsessed with this person with whom he is presumably in love. She has been haunting his thoughts as he sleeps.
In the second half of the first stanza, the speaker describes how the rest of his day might go. He knows it is likely, due to his past experiences, that the day will not be a happy and fulfilling one. The speaker describes moments in his life when “friends are met.” These should be happy, “enchanted” occasions but instead, the “sunshine” they create is unable to reach “some dark spot” within him. This is the place that is haunted by “thee, thee, only thee.”
The woman who the speaker loves is described as “haunt[ing]” him. Her presence is not wholly wanted. To some extent, he would like to rid himself of her. The “dark spot” within the speaker’s heart represents the longing he feels for this person who, for some unknown reason, he unable to see.
Whatever in fame’s high path could waken
My spirit once, is now forsaken
For thee, thee, only thee.
Like shores, by which some headlong bark
To the ocean hurries, resting never,
Life’s scenes go by me, bright or dark,
I know not, heed not, hastening ever
To thee, thee, only thee.
In the second stanza, the speaker goes on to describe how his life has been irrevocably changed by the presence of the woman inside his mind and heart. He used to care about the “fame” he might achieve in his life. His ambitions were set high and he was walking a path which he hoped would fulfill his spirit. Now though, this has changed. The “high path” is now “forsaken” as his whole life is devoted to “thee.”
The second half of the stanza speaks on how his life seems to be passing him by. He is no longer an active participant in his experiences. The speaker describes this phenomenon through a metaphor involving the ocean, its shores and a ship, or “bark.” His life is speeding past him just like a ship that cruises past the shores on which the ocean breaks. It does not stop to investigate every piece of land it passes, but moves forward ceaselessly, as the speaker does.
The speaker’s mind is devoted to a singular pursuit, the relationship he wants to have with “thee.” Moore’s speaker does not make clear how the object of his affections feels about him, but that does not seem to make a difference to the speaker. He is determined to remain on his new path until he gets what he wants.
I have not a joy but of thy bringing,
And pain itself seems sweet when springing
From thee, thee, only thee.
Like spells, that nought on earth can break,
Till lips, that know the charm, have spoken,
This heart, howe’er the world may wake
Its grief, its scorn, can but be broken
By thee, thee, only thee.
In the final stanza of this piece, the speaker describes how his life is confined to a series of simple emotions. Joy and pain come over him like spells. Just as the physical experiences of his life have been narrowed down to those which involve the woman he loves, so to have his emotions.
Joy only comes to him “by of thy bringing.” She is the only one who can make him happy. Additionally, she is able to bring him great pain which at her hands “seems sweet.” She is the only one who can make him feel this way and he is unable to get away from his need for her.
In the second half of the final stanza, the speaker describes how it is like she has a spell over him. There is no way for him to escape this spell, which is becoming more curse-like by the day, except at her hand. He describes how “nought on earth” could break the spell. That is, until her “lips” which first spoke, or in this case, caused “the charm, have spoken.”
Until the woman the speaker loves comes to him, or enters into a relationship with him, he will be under her spell. She has complete power over him. The poem ends as the previous two stanzas have ended, with the line “By thee, thee, only thee.”