Ask Me No More: by Alfred Tennyson - Summary & Analysis

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Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
But O too fond, when have I answer'd thee?
Ask me no more.

Ask me no more: what answer should I give?
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye:
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live;
Ask me no more.

Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal'd:
I strove against the stream and all in vain:
Let the great river take me to the main:
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield;
Ask me no more.

Introduction

      Coming at the end of Canto VI of The Princess, this inserted song gives the feelings of Princess Ida. The Princess has founded the Female Academy where no man is allowed. But the Prince disguised as a girl enters the Academy so as to be near his beloved.

Summary

      The singer asks her lover not to press her further to give a reply to his question. The moon may cause the sea to rise and the clouds may be drawn down by mountains and take up their shapes, but she would not yield to love. However, she is afraid of yielding and hence she sings — 'Ask me no more'. She has never encouraged him and it is foolish of him to go on waiting. She does not want to be pressed further or she may yield. Until now she has withstood the force of the strong current of love, but she is afraid that if pressed further, she would yield and be carried away into the sea of emotion, namely, love. Therefore, she tells her lover not to ask for a reply.

Critical Appreciation and Analysis

      The song Ask Me No More brings out the conflict within the Princess between her longing for love and her reluctance to yield to it. Her lack of self-confidence is clear in the refrain — "Ask me no more": for she is afraid that pressed hard enough, she would be carried away on the current of love.

      The lyric is simple but beautiful in its music and melody. The emotional intensity is striking. The use of monosyllables imparts gravity and stateliness to the song.

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