"My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a bargain better driven.
His heart in me keeps me and him 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.
His heart his wound received from my sight;
My heart was wounded with his wounded heart;
For as from me on him his hurt did light,
So still, methought, in me his hurt did smart:
Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss,
My true love hath my heart and I have his. "
Notice the unusual device in which a figure of speech is treated literally. The two lovers actually switch hearts (from one body to the other)! The poem is built on this understanding—even if the switch is physically impossible .
It is common for lovers to say that they have given their heart to their love, but not in the literal sense. In this thought-provoking piece of poetry, it seems that the lovers have each others actual hearts. Therefore he feels the pain her heart would be feeling and she feels the wounds that would be wounded to his heart.
In lines 5-6, the pronouns make sense; but what happens to them in lines 7-8? What does this ambiguity accomplish?
In lines 5-6 it seems like a typical couple, who is truly attached, that “has” each others’ hearts and knows each others feelings and thoughts. But then in lines 7-8 it is made clear that this is not simply a close relationship. Her heart is actually his heart in her and vise versa. This is why they are able to know each others feelings and thoughts, because they are actually their own. This ambiguity of whether the hearts are literally switched or if the lovers only figuratively hold each others hearts might confuse the reader at first, but upon deeper reflection it can be seen that whether they actually thought they had switched hearts or not, does not really matter. They are simply trying to portray the deep love and closeness they have with each other.
What events transpire in lines 9-12?
In lines 9-12 it seems to me that his heart had been wounded by her, but his heart was inside of her and thus it hurt her too. Is this what you all got from these lines too?
What does the speaker conclude about the “bliss” both lovers are seeking (lines 13-14)?
It almost seems as though the hurt mentioned above happened before the switch and they switched hearts hoping that would help them to live in bliss.
This somewhat confused me and yet made perfect sense at the same time. This poem definitely ties brains in knots! Feel free to comment your own thoughts about this poem!