The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.102 Monday, 12 March 2012
Date: March 9, 2012 2:02:00 PM EST
Subject: Shall I Die
The avoidance of the in the poem is especially unusual—and undoubtedly deliberate—since the continually repeated three-syllable unit could so easily be filled out with a prepositional phrase with the article supplying the unstressed second syllable. E.G., “At the head of the bed,” “On the floor near the door,” Through the night with the light,” “For the cat in the hat.”
It is surprising that Gerald Downs claims the poem “has no rhythm,” a judgment that might be challenged by comparison to a somewhat similar (if superior) lyric:
I’ve got tears in my ears
From lying on my back in my bed
While I cry over you.