Sir John Suckling Essay Research Paper Sir

Sir John Suckling Essay, Research Paper

Sir John Suckling was an English, Cavalier poet who was born in Twickenham,

Middlesex, on February 10, 1609. His mother died in 1613, when he was four years

of age. His father, descendant of a prominent Norfolk family, was appointed

Comptroller of James I’s household in 1622. Suckling matriculated at Trinity

College, Cambridge in 1623, but left without taking a degree in 1626. Suckling

inherited extensive estates after his father’s death in 1627. At the age of

eighteen, he pursued a military and ambassadorial career in the Low Countries,

and was knighted as a result in 1630. He returned to the English court in 1632

where through his wealth and charm he was known as an "elegant and popular

gallant and gamester, credited with having invented the game of cribbage."

(MacLean 252) In 1637 Suckling wrote the prose work Account of Religion by

Reason. His play, Aglaura, was published in 1638 and performed twice for Charles

I. The play had two different endings, one tragic and one happy. Critics did not

favor it, but it introduced some wonderful lyrics, such as "Why so pale and

wan, fond lover?" (Crofts 51) That same year, Suckling’s comedy The Goblins

was published. "It was much influenced by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and it

is generally thought to be Suckling’s best." (Andromeda Interactive Ltd.)

In 1639, Suckling recruited and equipped cavalry to help the King in Scotland.

"He was ridiculed by London wits for the troops’ elaborate uniforms

(scarlet coats and plumed hats) but was well-esteemed by the King." (Andromeda

Interactive Ltd.) In 1640, Suckling sat in Parliament for Bramber and took part

in an unsuccessful action against the Scots. Suckling was involved in a royalist

plan in 1641 to make use of the army on behalf of Charles I. When Parliament

ordered him to account for the movements he made, Suckling fled through Dieppe

to Paris. A few months later, he is said to have committed suicide by taking

poison. Most of Suckling’s work first appeared in Fragmenta Aurea of 1646. As

Thomas Crofts writes: "Suckling’s verse, of course, smacks of the court: it

is witty, decorous, sometimes naughty; all requisites for the courtier poet. But

these qualities alone would not have sufficed to "perpetuate his

memory." It should be remembered that the court swarmed with now-forgotten

versifiers. Suckling has his own voice, a deft conversational ease mixed at

times with a certain hauteur or swagger, which qualities were not incompatible

with his high birth and military occupation?. Though his oeuvre is

comparatively small, Suckling is an exemplary lyric poet, as well as one of the

most vivid personalities of his age." (Crofts 51) As was mentioned in many

of the biographies that were written about him, Suckling was an exemplary writer

and poet. The two pieces of his work that I want to focus on in this paper are

Sonnet I and Sonnet II. My purpose is to analyze the piece and explain how it

relates to events in his life, or just how it relates to his personality and the

type of person that he is. Sonnet I is a piece that focuses on Suckling himself,

like most of his work does. It is about Suckling and the fact that he is no

longer drawn to a certain woman the way he used to be drawn to her. There was a

time, though, where he was infatuated with her. In this piece, he ponders the

stages of life, mainly the sexual stages of human life. Sonnet I 1 " Dost

see how unregarded now 2 That piece of beauty passes? 3 There was a time when I

did vow 4 To that alone; 5 But mark the fate of faces; 6 The red and white works

now no more on me, 7 Than if it could not charm, or I not see. 8 And yet the

face continues good, 9 And I still have desires, 10 Am still the selfsame flesh

and blood, 11 As apt to melt, 12 And suffer from those fires; 13 Oh, some kind

of power unriddle where it lies, 14 Whether my heart be faulty, or her eyes. 15

She every day her man does kill, 16 And I as often die; 17 Neither her power,

then, nor my will 18 Can question’d be, 19 What is the mystery? 20 Sure beauty’s

empires, like to greater states, 21 Have certain periods set, and hidden

fates." (Crofts 52-53) Lines 1 and 2 of the piece pose a question to

someone. It could be to any reader, or to a certain person, I’m not exactly

sure. The question being asked is if the reader notices that Suckling is

disregarding the "piece of beauty" (or woman)? When he puts the word

"now" in line 1, he is helping us understand that he hasn’t always

disregarded the woman, this is a new thing. Lines 3 through 7 explain that there

was a time when Suckling vowed himself to the woman and was in love with her,

but as he says in "the fate of faces," beauty in a sense fades and is

not the most important thing anymore. A relationship is not a strong

relationship if it relies solely on beauty to keep it alive. The "red and

white" that he talks about refers to what once was thought to be a

"perfect" complexion. We could think of this as a form of makeup that

is put on the face in order to enhance beauty. The makeup does not work for him

anymore, and her and her beauty aren’t of such importance to him anymore. Lines

8 through 12 talk about the fact that Suckling still has desires and is still

the same person, that is apt to melt from the desires he has for her. The

desires he has, though, are not as often and not as strong as they used to be.

All humans have desires, it is a natural thing. Lines 13 and 14 make known the

fact that Suckling is confused by his weakening desires for the woman. He is not

sure if his heart is working right. He has no explanation for how he is feeling.

Lines 15 through 19 talk about the power that the woman has over men. Her beauty

gives her the power to control men in a sense, and have them desire her. He

finds the power a mystery and doesn’t understand why men’s wills weaken because

of a woman’s beauty. He understands, though, that his will has and will be

weakened because of a woman. Lines 20 and 21 talk about the fact that beauty,

like other things in life, has certain periods of effectiveness and growth that

are set. Beauty has a fate and most of the time, the fate for beauty is to age

and fade. Internal beauty is the beauty that stays longer and is the more

important one, for it is true and cannot be enhanced with makeup. Sonnet I can

honestly relate to many peoples’ lives. Suckling is just writing about his own

experience of falling slowly out of infatuation with a woman. Her beauty no

longer appeals to him as strongly as it used to and he wants to know why. It is

a mystery to him. In the biographies written about him, words like

"charming," "elegant," "popular," and

"handsome," have been used, so I’m sure that Suckling had many lovers

and many relationships. He was well known and definitely well respected. Knowing

of him, I can understand why he may write a piece like this. Many humans don’t

understand the feelings they feel and why they feel them. There is a pattern of

nature, in which all things grow and die, and attraction is included in that

pattern. Sonnet II is a continuation of the subject matter from Sonnet I. It

still deals with Suckling’s confusion about his feelings for a woman whose

beauty he used to adore, and the fact that those feelings are fading. Sonnet II

1 " Of thee (kind boy) I ask no red and white, 2 To make up my delight; 3

No odd becoming graces, 4 Black eyes, or little know-not-whats, in faces; 5 Make

me but mad enough, give me good store 6 Of love for her I court: 7 I ask no

more, 8 ‘Tis love in love that makes the sport. 9 There’s no such thing as that

we beauty call, 10 It is mere cozenage all; 11 For though some long ago 12 Lik’d

certain colours mingled so and so, 13 That doth not tie me now from choosing

new: 14 If I a fancy take 15 To black and blue, 16 That fancy doth it beauty

make. 17 ‘Tis not the meat, but ’tis the appetite 18 Makes eating a delight, 19

And if I like one dish 20 More than another, that a pheasant is; 21 What in our

watches, that in us is found; 22 So to the height and nick 23 We up be wound, 24

No matter by what hand or trick." (Crofts 53) In lines 1 through 5 of this

piece, Suckling is stating that he is not asking for "red and white,"

being the "perfect" completion and temperament of a woman. Red and

white do not "delight" him. He does not need any graces or little

games in a relationship. He basically wants a wholesome relationship that is not

based on anything shallow or made up. Beauty is no longer the most important

thing to him. In lines 6 through 8, Suckling is explaining that he will date a

woman because he loves her, not because of what she looks like. When you are in

love, and feel pure love, that is what is important. It is not important how

beautiful the woman is, your feelings for her are what is important. In lines 9

and 10, Suckling is talking about how he feels about beauty. He feels that there

is no such thing as real beauty, for beauty is deceitful. Beauty can trick our

minds. In lines 11 through 16, Suckling is talking about how in the past he has

chosen women who were beautiful as partners, but now he has learned from his

experiences. Now he may take a fancy to "black and blue," which are

quite different from "red and white." If red and white are supposed to

be the "perfect" combination, then black and blue are definitely not

perfect. He doesn’t care, though, if the woman is not beautiful, because as the

saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The only thing

that matters is that he thinks she’s beautiful. He could care less if everyone

else thinks she is ugly. He is looking more for the inner beauty of the woman.

In lines 17 through 21, Suckling is using an analogy to explain what makes

beauty important to most, by comparing it to food. He is basically saying that

lust makes the beauty of the person, just as hunger makes the beauty of the food

we are about to eat. After you have a relationship with the person, or after

you’ve eaten the food, they don’t seem as special as before you acquired them.

You notice flaws about them that you didn’t notice before. You are so caught up

in feelings, that you don’t look for what is truly important. Love is truly

important. In lines 22 through 24, Suckling sums up his idea that we are all

tricked at one time or another in our lives by beauty. Beauty is the tricker in

this sonnet, it deceives all of us. Sonnet II can again relate to most people’s

lives. We all have our own experiences with being deceived by beauty. Sometimes

our wish to be deceived is as strong as our desire for beauty. Suckling shared

with us a very important lesson that he learned in his life. After many

relationships in his past, he has learned that inner beauty and love are way

more important than outer beauty. Outer beauty can fade, but inner beauty and

love are real. He is expressing how he feels regardless of what other people

think of his thoughts. He is also expressing this during a time when beauty

mattered a whole lot to many. It has not been recognized until recently by many

that beauty isn’t always so important, so he was going out on a limb and taking

a chance on how others would react to this piece. John Suckling definitely

"had his own voice," as Thomas Crofts stated, and he made sure that it

was heard.


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