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Fourth Stanza

What am I thine, and thou not mine? Or dost

Not thou thy spouse join in thy glory clear?

Is my relation to thee but a boast?

Or but a blustering say-so, or spruice jeere

Should roses blow more late, sure I might get

If thine, some prim-rose or sweet violet?


This stanza carries on the same theme: How is it that I could be in this relationship with you and there be no (or too little) effect.

But this time through he asks the question in more direct terms. In the previous stanza he asked repeatedly: Am I just like something which appears to be one thing, and yet is in fact another. Am I a hypocrite: claiming but not being.

This stanza considers the matter from a different perspective

What am I thine, and thou not mine?

The stanza and this line begin with an accented syllable. Since it would be expected to be unaccented, the structure throws a great deal of weight upon the “What”

WHAT am i THINE and THOU not MINE? In the emphasis of the “What” is such as to require a pause immediately after the word. This line is actually remarkable by requiring three pauses (rather than one)

What [pause] am I thine, [pause] and thou not mine? [pause] Or dost

Another thing interesting in the structure is the internal rhyme: thing/mine This further sets of the (partial) line from the rest of the stanza, making it the key to understanding the progress of thought:

Is it true that I belong to you—a given fact—and I don’t actually have you? That makes no sense. To say I don’t have you, would mean I do not have the life of the vine; I do not have the necessary evidence in demonstration.

This sets up another question which throws the initial question into greater clarity:

                                                            Or dost

Not thou thy spouse join in thy glory clear?

The relationship between God and his people, Christ and the Church is in places spoken of as marriage. John Piper makes the interesting argument that God created the comparisons in our world so that we could understand what God speaks of pertaining to us.  Imagine a world in which human beings did not have marriage or even romantic love; but rather that human beings reproduced with the willingness of a rabbit or the even just as an amoeba without a partner. And then imagine God says I love you. He have not the faintest idea what he means, to the extent that marital love conveys an aspect of God’s love (which is further identified by other relationships such as father for son). What does it mean for an infinite, eternal, unchangeable person perfect in all attributes when he loves or hates.

Now the fact of these analogies are often used in the opposite direction as an argument: You have merely taken some elements of the world in which you live and arranged them into an image which is your God.  Here is the trouble with that argument: It contains an impossible premise.

It runs something like this:

There is no god.

There are various elements of this world which portray some aspect to us, such as the love within a caring marriage, or the love of a father for a son.

The relationship between any god and the elements of the world are arbitrary; that is to say, the God who created (assuming such an impossible thing), did not create anything to act as a metaphor for his existence or action.

(And here is where the argument becomes impossible)

God could not have ordered the world in such a way that there would have been a correlation between God’s attributes and actions and the elements in the world (such as, romantic love).

— and here is why that argument is impossible. First, the only evidence romantic love is not given as a metaphor for God is that God—if there were a God—did not do that. How could anyone know that to be true? It is an assertion not a deduction.

Second, if we are to assume that God created with any desire to communicate accurately or at least in some manner intelligibly, God would have to create necessary metaphors in human experience so as to facilitate that communication. Thus, knowledge of God would by definite be impossible, any conclusions merely an assertion which runs beyond any evidence.

Back to the poem

Whereas the first line could not be spoken without multiple pauses, this line and a foot reads most naturally without any pause.

If I am of your spouse, why wouldn’t I be permitted to join in your glory – which would, implicitly entail a manner of life more consistent with that marriage.

Is my relation to thee but a boast?

Here boast must mean an idle boast, an assertion of pride without substance. The use of world “boast” is thus used ironically. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 1:30–31 (AV)

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


Psalm 34:1–3 (AV)

1  I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

The Lord is to be our boast and glory.

Here then is the irony of the line: We should boast  in the Lord, and in particular our being related to him. And yet our boast must not be sinful.  What this would mean is that to rightly boast in the Lord is to set all in.  To boast sinfully is to make oneself one’s god.

He repeats and amplifies the question:

Or but a blustering say-so, or spruice jeere

Am I just a vain, vigorous, though ultimately empty, boast. Just a bluster or jeere.

And then he ends with the first opening of hope, which will mark the progression of the poem:

If the summer lasted just a while longer (from if the roses continued to bloom later in the year), perhaps there could be a flower and thus a reward for me:

Should roses blow more late [If roses bloomed later in the year] sure I might get

If thine, some prim-rose or sweet violet?