Her stepmother made a Princess a Ladily Worm by her spell. Three kisses of the princess's brother could make her return original shape. This was said when her brother was going to fight a Ladily Worm, which is the princess.

"O, quit your sword, unbend your bow,

And give me kisses three,

If I'm not won ere set of sun ,

Won never shall I be."

This is from a English fairy tale "The Laidly Worm of Spindrestone Heugh". Why is this sentence "If I'm not won ere set of sun" passive form?

  • 2
    Because it makes the meter work and provides internal rhyme ... what more reason do you need? Why shouldn't it be in the passive? – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 10 '17 at 20:28
  • I think it means "If I don't win kisses" and if it becomes passive form, it would be "If kisses aren't won". So I am confused with "If I'm not won ". – Yuuichi Tam Jun 10 '17 at 20:35
  • No, it's not about winning but about winning the lady herself, the speaker: the kisses are the price of winning her. This verse makes more sense in other versions where the champion is a king's son, not the lady's brother: he wins her as his wife. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 10 '17 at 20:43
  • But the following sentences are "Then Childe Wynd went up to the Laidly Worm and kissed it once; but no change came over it. Then Childe Wynd kissed it once more; but yet no change came over it. For a third time he kissed the loathsome thing, and with a hiss and a roar the Laidly Worm reared back and before Childe Wynd stood his sister Margaret. " – Yuuichi Tam Jun 10 '17 at 20:50
  • 2
    That's right: by kissing the loathsome creature three times Childe Wynde dispels the enchantment and 'wins'--gets back--his lost sister. In other version he wins a wife. The woman who is won, the passive subject, is the speaker. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 10 '17 at 20:53

I haven't read this poem but I presume the lady is the one speaking.

If the lady herself is the "prize", and someone's fighting for her heart or hand in marriage, etc. then she isn't going to win anything in the contest. She's going to be the prize given away.

We do not know who will win that contest, we only know what the prize is, so "if I am won" expresses that.

Perhaps she is talking to someone who is trying to win her - in this case the lady is casting doubt by expressing that she is not sure who will win her exactly.


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