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For That He Looked Not Upon Her

For That He Looked Not Upon Her

George Gascoigne (1535-1577), a sixteenth-century poet, playwright, and prose writer, published "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" in 1573. The poem is an expression of the power of beauty. When faced with a beautiful woman, the speaker feels powerless and would rather avoid the gaze. The person to whom the poem is addressed has already caused the speaker pain. Although he is drawn to her, he evades her visage and eye contact. Using alliteration, apostrophe, metaphor, and diction, Gascoigne expresses how deceit in a relationship can harm individuals and push people away.

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her:" At a Glance

The works of George Gascoigne are among the most important of the early Elizabethan era. Here is a breakdown of his sonnet, "For That He Looked Not Upon Her."

Poem"For That He Looked Not Upon Her"
Written byGeorge Gascoigne
Published1573
StructureEnglish sonnet
Rhyme SchemeABAB CDCD EFEF GG
MeterIambic pentameter
Literary devicesAlliteration, metaphor, apostrophe, diction
ImageryVisual imagery
ThemeDeceit and disappointment in love
MeaningThe meaning of the poem is revealed in the last couplet. The woman addressed has hurt the speaker and he would rather avoid looking at her because she has caused him much sorrow.

Sonnet is Italian for "little song."

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her:" Full Text

Here is George Gascoigne's English sonnet, "For That He Looked Not Upon Her," in its entirety.

You must not wonder, though you think it strange,
To see me hold my louring head so low,
And that mine eyes take no delight to range
About the gleams which on your face do grow.
The mouse which once hath broken out of trap
Is seldom ’ticèd with the trustless bait,
But lies aloof for fear of more mishap,
And feedeth still in doubt of deep deceit.
The scorchèd fly, which once hath ’scaped the flame,
Will hardly come to play again with fire,
Whereby I learn that grievous is the game
Which follows fancy dazzled by desire:
So that I wink or else hold down my head,
Because your blazing eyes my bale have bred.

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her:" Meaning

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is a poem that expresses how deception in love leads to disappointment. The woman addressed in the poem has been deceitful, and the speaker mistrusts her. Although it is never clear what she has done, it has deeply affected the speaker. The unfortunate insight he has gained is similar to a mouse that has learned not to trust bait in a trap or a fly that knows fire will burn wings. He has been incapacitated to the extent that he would rather avoid all danger, including avoiding her, than try to repair any damages.

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her:" Structure

The poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is an English sonnet. Also known as an Elizabethan or Shakespearean sonnet, this type of poem is written as one 14-line stanza. The sonnet form was considered an elevated form of verse in the 1500s and often dealt with important topics of love, death, and life.

The stanza comprises three quatrains, which are four lines of verse grouped together, and one couplet (two lines of verse together).

Like other English sonnets, the rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The pattern of rhyme is identified in English sonnets by end rhyme. Each line of the sonnet consists of ten syllables, and the poem's meter is iambic pentameter.

Rhyme scheme is a developed pattern of words at the end of one line of verse rhyming with words at the end of another line of verse. It is identified by using the letters of the alphabet.

End rhyme is when a word at the end of one line of verse rhymes with a word at the end of another line.

Meter is a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables within a line of poetry. The patterns create a rhythm.

A metric foot is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables that follow a pattern in verse. The example below is line 1 from "For That He Looked Not Upon Her." The bolded syllable is the emphasized syllable. Notice that the pattern focuses on syllables and not complete words.

"You must | not won | der, though | you think | it strange

A closed poetic structure is where the poet follows a set pattern of rhyme scheme and meter. How do you think a closed poetic structure, like the sonnet form, adds value to the message of a poem?

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her:" Analysis

In "For That He Looked Not Upon Her," Gascoigne implements several literary KK devices, including carefully chosen diction and visual imagery, to reveal the disillusioning experience of courtly love. The speaker is a lover that has been badly hurt in matters of the heart. Like a rodent that was trapped while searching for bait and narrowly escaped death, the speaker ignores what he desires rather than suffer anew. The following literary devices are key components to understanding the meaning of the poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her."

Imagery is a description within a piece of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or prose that appeals to the five senses. Visual imagery appeals to the sense of sight.

For That He Looked Not Upon Her, Close up of a green eye, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Visual imagery appeals to the reader's sense of sight and helps the audience imagine the writer's message more precisely.

Apostrophe

Although the title of the poem is in the third-person point of view, Gascoigne implements apostrophe within the poem to express the speaker's sentiment. The poetic voice is part of the action, contrary to what the title indicates. Beginning the poem with a title that removes the audience from the action using a third-person perspective helps the reader see things from a seemingly objective point of view.

An apostrophe is a direct address to an absent person or object that can't respond.

Third-person point of view uses the pronouns "he, she" and "they" to indicate that the persona sharing the details is not part of the action.

Implementing apostrophe throughout the poem simultaneously gives the speaker authority and authenticates the subject matter, the speaker's suffering. The audience can empathize with the speaker but is not invested in the action. The poem begins with the speaker addressing directly a woman who has hurt him, presumably in a romantic relationship.

You must not wonder, though you think it strange,
To see me hold my louring head so low,
And that mine eyes take no delight to range
About the gleams which on your face do grow.

(lines 1-4)

The first quatrain uses the pronoun "you" to apostrophize the woman addressed in the poem. As though he feels he must, the poetic voice explains his "strange" (line 1) behavior of averting his gaze from the "gleams" that "grow" (line 4) on her face. Even after being emotionally hurt, the poetic voice praises the woman's beauty. However, the speaker explains that his "eyes take no delight" (line 3) in her face because of the hurt she has caused. The apostrophe allows the audience to relate to the speaker on an intimate level and gives him a voice to express his pain directly to the woman who has caused it.

Diction

Gascoigne uses key diction throughout the poem to express the speaker's emotional pain and the irreparable damage the relationship has suffered. The woman has all the traits the speaker finds attractive, but her actions have ruined the affection the poetic voice felt.

Diction is the distinctive words, phrases, descriptions, and language a writer uses to establish mood and convey tone.

The speaker begins the poem using diction like "louring" (line 2) to establish his feelings of anger and sadness toward the situation he finds himself in with the addressee. "Louring" sets the mood by establishing that the speaker is hardened toward love and his previously beloved. By focusing on his feelings rather than her actions, the initial diction prepares the audience for the speaker's inevitable poetic shift in attitude later in the poem.

A poetic shift, also known as a turn of volta, is a marked change in tone, subject, or attitude expressed by the writer or speaker. Voltas typically occur sometime before the final couplet in sonnets. Often, transition words such as "yet," "but," or "so" indicate the turn.

While initially establishing a dejected mood, the final couplet shows the speaker's determination to move forward and leave a bad situation or relationship. The transition "so" in line 13 reveals the speaker's conclusive resolution to ward off the pain by holding down his head and avoiding her gaze, which has caused his sorrow.

Metaphor

Throughout the poem, Gascoigne uses several metaphors to establish the speaker's helplessness against the poem's subject and how damaging her actions have been. While the first quatrain establishes the apostrophe, quatrains two and three use metaphorical language and visual imagery to reveal the speaker's situation.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses direct comparisons to express similarities between the literal object and what it is figuratively describing.

The mouse which once hath broken out of trap
Is seldom ’ticèd with the trustless bait,
But lies aloof for fear of more mishap,
And feedeth still in doubt of deep deceit.

(lines 5-8)

Using visual imagery, the speaker compares himself to a mouse escaping from a trap. No longer enticed by "trustless bait" (line 6), the mouse is avoidant and constantly afraid of deceit. The woman addressed is the speaker's "trustless bait," something beguiling and attractive but false and corrosive at the core. The bait she represents is not true sustenance, but a ruse meant to hurt and even kill the rodent struggling to survive.

For That He Looked Not Upon Her, Mouse on fence, StudySmarterFig. 2 - The speaker compares himself to a mouse avoiding bait in a trap meant to kill him.

The scorchèd fly, which once hath ’scaped the flame,
Will hardly come to play again with fire,
Whereby I learn that grievous is the game
Which follows fancy dazzled by desire:

(lines 9-12)

The second controlling metaphor in the poem directly compares the speaker to a fly. The fly has been "scorched" (line 9) and just narrowly escaped a fire. The subject of the poem is, therefore, the fire. Fires traditionally represent passion and death; in this case, the speaker's literal ex-flame cannot convince him to "play again with fire" (line 10).

Using visual imagery, the speaker likens himself to a mouse and a fly. Both creatures are helpless and are often considered pests. The poetic voice feels both unprotected against her and as though he is a nuisance in life. The poem's subject is equated to a "trustless bait" and "flame," which both cause irreparable damage. Because the creatures the speaker associates himself with have no means to defend themselves, his final conclusion, to simply avoid the danger, is the best course of action.

For That He Looked Not Upon Her, Log on fire, StudySmarterFig. 3 - The speaker compares the woman in the poem to a flame that damages and burns a fly.

Alliteration in "For That He Looked Not Upon Her"

Alliteration in poetry is often used to draw attention to an idea, to create an auditory rhythm to the words, and sometimes show a logical and thoughtful organization of ideas.

Alliteration is the repetition of a speech sound in a group of words within the same line of poetry or words that appear nearby one another. Alliteration typically indicates the repeated sound created by consonant letters that are at the start of words or within a stressed syllable in the word.

In "For That He Looked Not Upon Her," Gascoigne implements alliteration to express the speaker's emotions and express his perspective clearly. Alliterative word pairs such as "for fear" (line 7) and "grievous" and "game" (line 11) bring added emphasis to the speaker's feelings of distress and disgust. At once guarded against the addressee's actions, and appalled by her shameful behavior, the repeated strong consonant sounds of "f" and the hard "g" sound highlight the doubt the poetic voice feels in the relationship.

Gascoigne also uses alliteration to emphasize the speaker's attraction to the woman addressed in the poem.

Which follows fancy dazzled by desire

(line 12)

The alliterative line featuring the repeated "f" sound and "d" sound stresses the temptation the poetic voice feels towards the poem's subject. The speaker yearns for the unnamed "Her" in the poem and feels a strong fondness for her. It is undeniably so; in an effort to protect himself, he avoids her by holding his "head so low" (line 2) to avoid seeing her beauty and making eye contact with her.

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her" Theme

Gascoigne's "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" explores themes of deceit and disappointment in love to express the overall message of the damaging effects that dishonesty can have in a romantic relationship. Most individuals have or will experience betrayal in romance, and these universal themes are explored in the poem.

Deceit

The poem exemplifies how the speaker suffered in the relationship and has become indifferent to love and the woman he is addressing. Although her beauty "gleams" (line 4), the speaker does not enjoy looking at the woman because her actions, her "deceit" ( line 8), has ruined his love for her. The poem expresses deception in love as bait in a mouse trap. Love, or the beloved, is tantalizing, promising, and almost a necessary sustenance of life. However, once enticed and trapped, the mouse is lucky to escape with his life. In a relationship, deception is just as damaging.

The speaker has barely survived the lies from the "trustless" (line 6) woman. Expressing a sentiment that most can relate to, the poetic voice feels burned and victimized.

Disappointment

Like many scorned lovers, the speaker is disappointed. Jaded with the woman, her behavior, and his experience, he resigns himself to avoiding her, like a rat does a trap or a fly does a flame. He feels that continuing in a relationship with her would be damaging to his health. Her deceit has bred distrust, and it is an unsustainable relationship. Describing his experience as a "game" (line 11), the speaker expresses that he has been played with. He has learned from the appalling treatment he has suffered and will not return to the same situation.

His attitude proves he has gained insight and will likely be more guarded in future experiences. His relationship with her is obliterated, and his disillusionment is clear. The poem ends with more visual imagery as the speaker compares the woman's eyes to a blaze. He asserts his intent to avoid her and "look not upon her," which has bred his "bale" (line 14) or contempt.

For That He Looked Not Upon Her - Key takeaways

  • "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is an English sonnet written by George Gascoigne.
  • The poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" was first published in 1573.
  • "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" uses alliteration, apostrophe, diction, and metaphor to express themes of deceit and disappointment.
  • "For That He Looked Not Upon Her' uses visual imagery to express the speaker's vulnerability and the power the woman addressed wields.
  • "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is a poem that expresses how deception in love leads to disappointment.

Frequently Asked Questions about For That He Looked Not Upon Her

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her" was written and published in 1573.

Visual imagery is used to portray the speaker as helpless against the damaging traits of the woman addressed in the poem. 

Using alliteration, apostrophe, metaphor, and diction, Gascoigne expresses how deceit in a relationship can harm individuals and push people away. 

The meaning of the poem is revealed in the last couplet. The woman addressed has hurt the speaker and he would rather avoid looking at her because she has caused him much sorrow. 

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is an English sonnet. 

Final For That He Looked Not Upon Her Quiz

Question

What type of sonnet is "For That He Looked Not Upon Her"?

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Answer

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her" has 14 lines, is written in iambic pentameter and has a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. It is an English sonnet.

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Question

To what or who is "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" addressed? 

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Answer

Gascoigne uses apostrophe in "For That He Looked Not Upon Her". The speaker addresses the woman who hurt him and who he is now trying to avoid. 

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Question

Line 9, "The scorchèd fly, which once hath ’scaped the flame" from the poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is an example of what type of imagery?

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Answer

Visual imagery

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Question

Which of the following lines shows the poem begins in apostrophe? 

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Answer

"You must not wonder, though you think it strange"

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Question

Which line from "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" is a metaphor? 

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Answer

"The scorchèd fly, which once hath ’scaped the flame, / Will hardly come to play again with fire"

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Question

Where does the shift in the poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" occur? 

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Answer

The shift or volta in the poem happens in line 13, with the word "so." 

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Question

"For That He Looked Not Upon Her" uses all of the following literary devices except

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Answer

Allusion

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Question

What is the meaning of "For That He Looked Not Upon Her"? 

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Answer

The meaning of the poem is revealed in the last couplet. The woman addressed has hurt the speaker and he would rather avoid looking at her because she has caused him much sorrow. 

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Question

What themes are explored in "For That He Looked Not Upon Her"? 

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Answer

The central themes of deceit and disappointment are explored in the poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her."

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Question

What diction from the poem "For That He Looked Not Upon Her" best communicates the speaker's attitude? 

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Answer

"my bale have bred"

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