A thousand torments wait on love;
The sigh, the tear, the anguish’d groan!
But he who never learnt to prove
A jealous pang, has nothing known.
For jealousy, supreme of wo,
Nursed by distorted fancy’s power,
Can round the heart bid misery grow,
Which darkens with the lingering hour;
While shadows, blanks to reason’s orb,
In dread succession haunt the brain;
And pangs, that every pang absorb,
In wild convulsive tumults reign.
At morn, at eve, the fever burns,
While phantoms tear the aching breast;
Day brings no calm, and night returns,
But marks no soothing hour of rest.
Not when the bosom’s wasted fires
Are all extinct, is anguish o’er;
For jealousy, which ne’er expires,
Can wound—when passion is no more.
Mary Robinson was an 18th century actress, poet, dramatist, and novelist whose work is associated with English Romanticism.
This poem works really well because it conveys powerful emotion and uses metaphor appropriately so that the poem is both evocative and accessible. And the topic is something so universal that any reader can relate to it.
Anyone who has ever been truly in love knows the pain of jealousy. Even when we know that our relationships are solid and there is no cause for jealousy, somehow, the phantom seems to creep into an unsuspecting brain. And this is why Ms. Robinson’s poem works so well. She incorporates the imagery of phantoms haunting the consciousness in silence and darkness, which is the perfect breeding ground for jealousy. When your fears are exposed to the light, jealousy often rapidly fades, but it thrives in the loneliness of the obsessive mind, feeding upon itself and gaining strength as the individual suffers in silence.
There is not a lot that I feel needs to be explained here. The symbolism and metaphors are clear, and the emotion expressed is obvious. I hope you enjoyed the poem, and if you are currently harboring feelings of jealousy, get them out in the open, otherwise they will consume you.
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