sigh’st and weep'st

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longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi
Here is a poem:
When thou sigh’st, thou sigh’st not wind
But sigh’st my soul away;
When thou weep’st, unkindly kind,
My life’s blood doth decay.


Why did the author put " st" behnid sigh and weep? What do the mean?
Thanks a lot !!!
 
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    The short answer is "because he wrote it in the 1630s." You didn't give the title or author, but it's John Donne's "Sweetest love, I do not go."

    He used sigh'st for the same reason he used "thou;" because that's what English was like then. It was the second person singular of "sigh."

    Edit: crossposted with others giving the same answer.

    Further edit: Kate is correct, but the apostrophe is there to show that the words should be elided to one syllable, to fit the meter.

    Further further edit: which Julian Stuart said while I was editing. I have contributed nothing to this thread!
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    You should know by now that you must provide context and/or source when you post a question:mad:

    However, I can tell by the words that this is either a poem written a long time ago, or one written in that style. Older forms of English verbs different word endings than those of today. Today's version would be "You weep", for example and the older form would be "Thou weepest". Thou is the singular (referring to one person, butt today we use 'you" to refer to either one person or many people. The apostrophe indicates that the e has been omitted and each word becomes one syllable to fit the meter of the poem.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Answer:John Donne: Song


    Here "thou" is not third person sigular, why did the author put s behind a verb
    POB14 said:
    He didn't. He wrote "sighest," which as we've all said, is the archaic second person singular, and then contracted it to "sigh'st," for purposes of the meter.
    I wonder if perhaps I confused longxianchen by referring to sighs and weeps instead of sigh and weep? If so, I apologize. I don't know how to conjugate a verb so that it goes with thou and I therefore could have done it incorrectly. I can understand understand thou and sighest without any trouble, but since neither the pronoun nor that verb form is in active use (at least not by anybody I know), I've never been taught the proper conjugations.

    (Cross-posted with Lucas)
     
    Last edited:

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I can understand understand thou and sighest without any trouble, but since neither the pronoun nor that verb form is in active use (at least not by anybody I know), I've never been taught the proper conjugations.
    This is a really important point - most contemporary speakers don't (and even can't) distinguish between the archaic verb endings. But they're easy to recognize, and we just read them as "archaic present-tense verbs."

    And since "thou" is archaic, there's no saying what verb ending it should get in contemporary English.
     
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