Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal: Summary & Analysis

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Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The fire-fly wakens: waken thou with me.
Now droops the milk white peacock like a ghost,

And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.
Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Introduction

      This lyric is one of the two in Canto VII of The Princess. The Prince who has come in disguise to the Female Academy one night finds Princess Ida reading in low tones a song from a book of poets. 'Now sleeps the crimson petal' is that song.

Summary

      The song Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal is an appeal to the beloved to surrender herself to her lover and become one with her. The lover makes his appeal by pointing out the subtle spiritual attraction existing between the restful sky and the starry sky. As the earth is open to the sky, so his beloved must surrender herself to him. As the meteor leaves a streak of light in the sky, so the thoughts of his beloved leave their mark on his heart. The lover wants the beloved to be lost in him.

Critical Appreciation and Analysis

      This lyric is unusual because it is Tennyson's personal adaptation of the Persian ghazal form. In fact the imagery of roses, lilies, peacocks, stars etc. show Persian influence.

      This poem has no rhyme in the separate stanzas — unusual in a short lyric — though the fact that every stanza ends with the same word gives a suggestion of rhyme not fully developed, which marks the stanza and sets off the "song" from the blank verse of the main poem. The use of repetition and alliteration (especially of I and s) is striking. This is a matchless lyric of haunting beauty.

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