To which my soul made answer readily:
'Trust me in this rich bliss it shall abide
In this great mansion, that is built for me,
So rich and royal wide'.

I found these lines (17-20) interesting in as much as they play on the gender role of the soul as female. I don't think the soul could have been engendered as male, and still carry out the same function in the poem. The soul is the Lady of a great house which was built specifically for her, like a bridal gift. She was brought to it, and is expected to take joy in all the immense gifts presented to her and be artistically productive (sing) But at the same time, by her own admission, she is also expected to "abide" the speaker.

"[H]er intellectual throne"(215) and "solemn mirth" (214)are guaranteed by the isolation, protection and wealth with which the (male) speaker provides her. She can ignore "the riddle of the painful earth" (212) and proclaims "I care not what the sects may bawl" (line 210)because she is completely separate from it.

Could the soul have been a man? could the poem worked in the same way? The isolation of the artist is also correlated with the isolation and protection of a bride, much like a caged bird. What can we get out of the end about not only the artist's role in society, but also a woman's?


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Last modified 7 September 2003