Friday, 17 June 2011

The Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Ambiguity

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease...

Is the opening of a sonnet by Shakespeare. The love he refers to is an emotion that he has. That clear? Good.

In Philip Sidney's Arcadia a shepherdess sings:

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
In just exchange, one for the other given.

Here the true love is a man. The sheperdess refers to him as her true love but he is a person who reciprocates her emotion. Got that? Okay. Read the following carefully:

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true.
I of course replied,
Something here inside cannot be denied.

They said, 'Someday you'll find
All who love are blind.
When your heart's on fire,
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes.'

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed
To think they could doubt my love.
Yet today, my love has flown away
I am without my love.

Now laughing friends deride
Tears I can not hide.
So I smile and say,
'When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes.'

So here's the question: is the love that has flown away an emotion or a person? Has he been dumped, or has he dumped?

When he goes to France, he's a cross-channel Ferry.


  1. I'd always assumed his (or her, depending on who was singing the song) true love was the person he/she was in love with. Reading it again, I can see it is ambiguous - although a song about falling out of love is more unusual than a song about being dumped, so I am standing by my original interpretation.

  2. The anon makes a good point.