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The Bargain – Sir Philip Sidney, ca. 1575

Posted August 23rd, 2012 in Marriage poems, Romantic poems, Wedding anniversary poems and tagged , , , by Michael Walter

The Bargain

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for another given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven:
My true love hath my heart, and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides:
My true love hath my heart, and I have his.

The Bargain is a poem which straightforwardly celebrates the union of two hearts. It details the long lasting and closely knit relationship between two lovers who share themselves completely with one another.

One of the most striking features of this work is the densely symmetrical rhyming structure, with the first stanza featuring three matching end rhymes and a repitition of the poem’s opening line, and the second stanza featuring that same line again. By mirroring the same rhymes and lines, the poem adds to the motif of even exchange introduced by the theme of the giving of hearts.

The use of the “bargain” metaphor is at first a little odd in a poem about love. It’s uncommon to see romantic love spoken of as a “just exchange” or a “bargain driven”. This choice plays upon the transactional nature of marriage in sixteenth century England, which entailed a complex, state-regulated exchange of dowries and property rights. In fact, many couples of the period chose to exchange private vows or live common-law marriages rather than go through the hassle and expense of a state-sponsored church wedding.

Nevertheless, The Bargain is less about marriage practises and more about giving simple praise for an equal, loving, faithful partnership.

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