The poet begins the poem, already showing the significance of the title with, “Thou robot my days of business and delights, of sleep thou robot my nights,” (lines 1-2). We can already tell by the first two lines that the subject has to do with someone robbing something from him, not literally. His time was robbed from him. In the third line, he contradicts the negative connotation the word thief has by putting a positive adjective in front of the word, “Ah lovely thief, what wilt thou do? ‘ (Line 3).
In this rhetorical question, the reader can already guess that the thief is someone he admires, and by this stanza, we can tell that he idealizes her, “… With wild idolatry. “(Line 6) The poet continues to describe the torture that this girl had caused with lines, “For l, as Midas did of old, Perish by turning everything to gold” and “my pains resemble hell in this,” comparing this feeling to hell. The literary devices the poet uses is rhetorical questions and repetition to describe his despair.
As he says, “Is it sin to love, that it should thus, like an ill conscience torture us? ‘(Line 8-9) and “what do I seek, alas, or why do I attempt in vain from thee to fly? “(Line 22-23). After reading the poem, the views of the title changes as we now see “The Thief’ as a bittersweet memory. As this women most likely did nothing at all to cause such sorrow in the speaker and “stole” his life. The theme is the love can be torturous and the speaker could be speaking to young boys in particular as a warning not to fall in love.