Text of the Poem

I struck the board, and cried, "No more; 
                         I will abroad! 
What? shall I ever sigh and pine? 
My lines and life are free, free as the road, 
Loose as the wind, as large as store. 
          Shall I be still in suit? 
Have I no harvest but a thorn 
To let me blood, and not restore 
What I have lost with cordial fruit? 
          Sure there was wine 
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn 
    Before my tears did drown it. 
      Is the year only lost to me? 
          Have I no bays to crown it, 
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted? 
                  All wasted? 
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit, 
            And thou hast hands. 
Recover all thy sigh-blown age 
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute 
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage, 
             Thy rope of sands, 
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee 
Good cable, to enforce and draw, 
          And be thy law, 
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see. 
          Away! take heed; 
          I will abroad. 
Call in thy death's-head there; tie up thy fears; 
          He that forbears 
         To suit and serve his need 
          Deserves his load." 
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild 
          At every word, 
Methought I heard one calling, Child! 
          And I replied My Lord. 


  1. The speaker reflects on his increasing fervor and wildness in speech. In the midst of this, he imagines hearing a divine voice calling him "Child," and he responds by acknowledging the divine authority with "My Lord."

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The speaker's heart reassures him that there is still fruit to be gathered, and he should use his hands to recover the time lost in sighs. The advice is to embrace double pleasures, leave behind cold disputes about what is proper, and forsake the self-imposed cage of petty thoughts.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The speaker reflects on the abundance that existed before his expressions of sorrow dried up the wine and drowned the corn, symbolizing the richness of life and its subsequent loss.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The speaker questions whether he will always be in a state of pleading or seeking. The mention of the harvest and thorn suggests the idea of reaping pain instead of the fruitful rewards of life.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. The use of the board is a symbol of restraint and confinement.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Death's head is personified as something that can be called in and restrained, contributing to the poem's allegorical elements.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. "The Collar" is written in a regular iambic pentameter, with lines consisting of ten syllables following an unstressed-stressed pattern. The poem follows a specific rhyme scheme, with the stanzas alternating between ABAB and CDCD. This pattern, along with the use of regular meter, contributes to the poem's structured and rhythmic form

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor