Summary of Thomas Campion’s “There is a Garden in Her Face”

Belonging to the late 16th and the early 17th centuries, Thomas Campion was not just a composer but also poet and physician. Campion’s There is a Garden in Her Face can be taken as both poem and song. In this poem, he describes a lady who is most probably the apple of his eyes.

Let’s take a closer look at the poem, There is a Garden in Her Face, first and then summarize, and make its thematic analysis.

There is a Garden in Her Face by Thomas Campion

There is a garden in her face 
Where roses and white lilies grow; 
A heav’nly paradise is that place 
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow. 
There cherries grow which none may buy, 
Till “Cherry ripe” themselves do cry. 
Those cherries fairly do enclose 
Of orient pearl a double row, 
Which when her lovely laughter shows, 
They look like rose-buds fill’d with snow; 
Yet them nor peer nor prince can buy, 
Till “Cherry ripe” themselves do cry. 
Her eyes like angels watch them still, 
Her brows like bended bows do stand, 
Threat’ning with piercing frowns to kill 
All that attempt with eye or hand 
Those sacred cherries to come nigh, 
Till “Cherry ripe” themselves do cry. 

Summary of Thomas Campion’s “There is a Garden in Her Face”

English composer Thomas Campion’s There is a Garden in Her Face extols the beauty of a girl whose identity is not explicitly revealed. Nevertheless, there is not much difficulty in concluding that she is the apple of the speaker’s eyes. Otherwise, he would not extol her extravagantly.

The speaker of There is a Garden in Her Face compares the lady’s face with a garden where ‘roses and white lilies grow’. Moreover, he calls it a ‘heavenly paradise’ where the pleasantest of fruits are available. Likewise, cherries also grow there but nobody can purchase yet. The cherries are unaffordable because they have double rows of orient pearl which, when the beautiful girl smiles, appear like ‘rosebuds filled with snow’. Absolutely no one including her friends and even a prince is able to make her fall for them until she says she is ready for love.

Furthermore, the speaker also makes a comparison between the lady’s eyes with that of angels and her brows with bent bows. It seems like she is there to kill her suitors by piercing them with her piercing frowns. Hence, there is nobody who can dare to approach and propose her for love. He argues that the attempts whether tender or forceful are useless until she makes her decision all by herself.

There is a Garden in Her Face: Analysis

Thomas Campion’s poem There is a Garden in Her Face has six-lined three stanzas and each stanza follow the same rhyming pattern. The first stanza has ab ab cc, the second has de de cc and the third stanza’s rhyme scheme is fg fg cc. There is a Garden in Her Face is also a song in the sense that there is a refrain “Till ‘Cherry ripe’ themselves do cry” at the end of each stanza. It means, every stanza ends with the same line.

Campion has employed multiple metaphors and similes in There is a Garden in Her Face. The speaker of the poem says “There is a garden in her face/ Where roses and white lilies grow.” The roses refer to the pink cheeks of the lady while the white lilies symbolize both her innocence and her skin color. He emphasizes her beauty by calling her face a “heavenly paradise” where all pleasant fruits are available. “There cherries grow, which none may buy/ Till ‘Cherry ripe’ themselves do cry” suggests that she is on the verge of becoming an adult. ‘Cherry ripe’ refers to the due announcement of the girl’s youth.

The speaker is not done appreciating the beauty of the girl’s face. In the second stanza, it is revealed that the cherries signify the red and tender lips of the girl which enclose “orient pearl a double row” i.e. the double rows of her white teeth. The poet has used a simile by saying that her lips and teeth look like “rosebuds filled with snow.” Yet, neither her closest of friends nor even a prince can convince her for love unless she is ready for love.

In the third stanza of There is a Garden in Her Face, the speaker uses a couple of similes again. He compares the lady’s eyes with those of angels and her brows with bent bows. Now, he also reveals that the cherries are still sacred which means they have never been touched. It refers to the fact that the girl is not yet ready for staying in a relationship with a guy. “Till ‘Cherry ripe’ themselves do cry” also shows that she is still a raw child for whom to grow, her suitors must wait patiently.

What is the Theme of Thomas Campion’s ‘There is a Garden in Her Face’?

Thomas Campion’s poem There is a Garden in Her Face carries multiple themes like feminine beauty, perspective on beauty, masculine excitement, etc.

  • feminine beauty – feminine beauty is highly emphasized in There is a Garden in Her Face.
  • perspective on beauty – beauty is shown as a thing for consumption by comparing the lady’s face with garden. According to Campion, beauty is a matter of appreciation, not of consumption.
  • masculine excitement – in There is a Garden in Her Face, the speaker cannot wait for the little girl to become an adult so that he could manipulate her.

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