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From Aurora Leigh:

Have you learnt No more of women, 'spite of privilege,
Than still to take account too seriously
Of such weak flutterings? Why, we like it, sir,–
We get our powers and our effects that way.
The trees stand stiff and still at time of frost,
If no wind tears them; but, let summer come,
When trees are happy,–and a breath avails
To set them trembling through a million leaves
In luxury of emotion. Something less
It takes to move a woman: let her start
And shake at pleasure,–nor conclude at yours,
The winter's bitter,–but the summer's green.'

What is the meaning of nor conclude at yours?

Let a woman to start (= jerk in surprise) and shake at pleasure (as she pleases). But what is the meaning of "nor conclude at yours"?

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I think the phrase "let her start And shake at pleasure,–nor conclude at yours," should be understood something like "let her start and shake at [her] pleasure, and not conclude at your [pleasure]", or, more loosely, "let her start and stop when she wants, not when you want".

There is, however, the ambiguity of "start". Does it mean jolt or does it mean begin, as my paraphrases here take it? (My OED lists both, with the jolt sense coming before the begin sense.) The occurrence in "start and shake" makes the jolt sense seem more likely, but the opposition with "conclude" makes the begin sense more likely. Is it allowed for a poet to use a word in two senses at once?

  • Is it allowed for a poet to use a word in two senses at once? - poets can do anything they want ;). – Mithrandir Dec 25 '17 at 15:51

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