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Vocabulary in Song
Vocabulary Examples in Song:
"true..." See in text (Song)
“True” in this context means chaste; “false,” unchaste. The speaker’s anger towards women and negative opinion of their character in this poem seems to come from his perception of women as licentious, or promiscuous.
"Pilgrimage..." See in text (Song)
A “pilgrimage” is a long-distance journey made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion. Referring to this search for a “true and fair” woman as a “pilgrimage” suggests that this “search” is an almost religious, or divinely ordained, quest.
"No where Lives a woman true, and faire..." See in text (Song)
In this second stanza, the speaker qualifies his statements in the first stanza: by no honest minds, he means no honest women. “True” and “fair” mean virtuous in this context. The speaker uses these words and the concept of “honest” to suggest that all women are duplicitous and promiscuous.
"wilt..." See in text (Song)
“Wilt” is a second-person–singular-present form of the verb “will.” In this line, the speaker is saying, “you will tell me.” He uses this archaic vocabulary in order to fit the meter of the line.
" What winde..." See in text (Song)
By “what wind” the speaker means that there is no “wind” that will create an honest mind. In other words, honest minds do not exist, and by extension honest people are akin to mythological creatures.
"Mermaides singing..." See in text (Song)
A mermaid is a mythological creature that lives in the sea with the head and torso of a human and the tail of a fish. In the early modern period mermaids were thought to entice sailors into drowning, much like the sirens from Homer’s The Odyssey. To learn to “hear mermaids singing” was to learn how to resist the enticing song that enchanted men to their death—a mythological impossibility.
"mandrake..." See in text (Song)
A “mandrake” is a mythological plant that had a leafy top above ground and a human body below the dirt. When pulled from the ground, the human part of the plant would shriek so terribly that anyone who heard the sound would die. Paradoxically, it was believed that the deadly plant could also help women conceive.