Compare and contrast the attitudes shown towards love, in at least two different pre-twentieth century poems
Love is a belief amongst human beings. Aristotle said “love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies”, therefore he believed that love cannot be felt by one person, it can be felt when it is shared among two people. Love is something that should be felt with the heart, if it is true, “the best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart”, this was said by Helen Adams Keller, a deaf-blind American, who learned to appreciate the best things in life, like love through her heart.
There are different beliefs about love, and it means something different to several people. Poetry is one of the many ways people put across their views about love. So there are many poems about love, because it is easier to express love in a short amount of time, in a lyrical, rhythmical form. Furthermore, the imagery contained in a poem is very vivid and different to ones seen in films; poems like “when we two parted”, by Lord Bryon tells us about love hurting because the man has just been rejected by his love affair “when we two parted in silence and tears”.
In addition it gives you information on love, and how different people feel when they experience love. Love poems communicate with the readers on a personal level. For example ‘first love’, one of the poems studied, it is written in first person, therefore puts us in the poets position. Love can be expressed in numerous forms, for example, Shakespeare, who wrote the most famous love tragedy of all time ‘Romeo and Juliet’, printed in 1597. Today it is still well known and has been made into a film. Films, is another way views about love are expressed, because seeing images of love can connect with the viewer’s emotion.
One more way is through music, or through lyrical poetry. This is why couples have a song they call theirs, because it represents their type of love for one another. Music today is still being used to express feelings about love, “if music be the food of love, play on,” Shakespeare (twelfth night), said by Orsino. Over the years humans have developed different types of love, such as Love at first sight, which is very much like one of the poems studied ‘first love’. This type of attitude towards love involves a variety of different emotions.
Another type of love is tragic love; ‘Remember’ contains elements of this type of love. The attitude towards love is that it causes hurt and emotional pain. The poem ‘A woman to her lover’ explores the clichi?? d attitude that love is blind. This is because the woman is talking about three different lovers, who are blinded by their different views on love. ‘A woman to her lover,’ has 4 stanzas, all of which are varied, with no rhyme schemes. Walsh makes the title similar to the point she is making, that man does not own the woman.
The word “woman” in the title is in a dominant position. So the poem challenges a stereotype, that man owns the woman. The poem is positive yet negative because of the way the poet talks about different types of lovers there are. Also the attitude the, poems has towards love is that, love hurts when you haven’t found the right person, “wearing out my life in drudgery and silence”. However love is beautiful once you have found the perfect lover, “that so together, we may know the purity and heights of passion, and joy, and sorrow.
This lover asks to be equals. However the poem is very simple to understand, since it is a liberating poem. Words like “or” makes it easier to understand the poem, because it is a direct word. Each stanza is talking about a different lover. This simple structure is another thing that makes the poem easy to understand. The poem is similar to ‘first love’, a different pre-twentieth poem studied; which is also easy to understand, because of its lyrical form, each stanza has the same length.
Furthermore ‘first love’ is very clichi?? about experiencing first love, by using similes such as “like a sweet flower”. When describing first love it’s always related to nature, or the woman is described to a flower. This is because flowers are natural, and pure; therefore when experiencing first love it comes natural to the person, and it is pure love. The first stanza of ‘A woman to her lover’ is strong, which makes it fast paced, by using strong negative words like “conqueror and vanquished”. The poet is in a position of command, we notice this in the first line, “Do you come to me”.
This is a strong, angry, question. Immediately in the first line the readers get an impression that she dislikes this lover. The second and third stanzas in the poem start with “or”, this gives me an indication that she is giving examples of the type of lovers she dislikes due to the fact that she was negative about the first lover, and instantly we know that she will not be positive about these lovers. However in the last stanza she starts with “but”, so we know that the lover will contrast the ones above, and she will be positive about this lover.
In the second stanza she uses punctuation to add pace, and the negative effects it gives “Go! ” she uses an exclamation mark, to add more impact to word, also the use of short sentence makes the readers pause. In the third stanza she uses the rule of three adjectives to add effect “Oh shame, pity, and abasement”. She did this because she wants us to feel sorry for this lover, and for his imperfect way of thinking about love. However the poem is positive, due to the fact that she is positive about the last lover, “and our co-equal love, will make the stars to laugh with joy”.
The last stanza of the poem is longer than the first three, because she wants to give us as much information as she can on her perfect lover. Also we find out in this stanza about how religious she is, “until we reach the very heart of God”. It seems as though the poet is making a vow to her lover ’till death do us part’, that their love is eternal. This stanza contrasts with stanza three, because in stanza three she makes references to sex, “than to gratify your clamorous desire”, here she is complaining about the lover just wanting her for the physical part of sex.
However in the last stanza she also makes a reference about sex, “, and mate”, but this sex is love making and possibly conception, and not just for fun. There are many different types of love in this poem, because the different types of love, relates to different lovers. In the first stanza the type of love is tough love, “to make me a bond slave”; the lover is abusing his position, by treating her like a slave, and showing no love towards her. The second one is like false love, because the woman has no input in the relationship, “whose every deed and word is golden”.
The third love is sexual love, the lover just wants her for sex, “than gratify your clamorous desire”. Lastly the fourth love is eternal love, “until we reach the very heart of God”. The first three stanzas in the poem are fast-paced; Walsh uses words that make the reader dislike the lovers, i. e. “abasement”. The tone of the last stanza changes, which makes it slow; the adjectives are subtle, for example “joy and sorrow”, this makes the reader take in what her perfect lover is. Also it gets in touch with the readers on a personal level, by making us think about what our perfect lover is.
Remember’ is very different from ‘A woman to her lover’, due to the fact that ‘it explores a different type of love to the poem; Rossetti is talking about love within a relationship. The poem has one stanza, but ‘A woman to her lover’ has four. The structure in the poem changes the way we see the poem, because the first 8 lines contradict the other 6; so we get two different views from the same person. ‘Remember’ has a regular rhyme scheme, a, b, b, a; this differs from ‘A woman to her lover’, which has no rhyme scheme.
The rhyme scheme in ‘Remember’ makes it easier to understand, because they are not complicated, simple words like “planned”. However sonnets are complicated types of poems, due to the way they are structured and the understanding it involves. ‘Remember’ is a sonnet, and sonnets have been famous since the 14th century. Shakespeare used sonnets to talk about love. This particular type of sonnet (petrarchan) is different from others, because of the structure, 8 lines focus on one angle of the topic, “remember me when I am gone”.
In the first half, Rossetti is asking the lover not to forget about her, that she should be remembered when she dies. The next 6 lines contradict the one above “forget me for a while… remember do not grieve. ” This time she changes her mind and asks the lover not to grieve if he forgets her. ‘Remember’, the title is imperative, but subtle and direct to the lover. This is a first sign that Rossetti is in command, “Remember”. In this poem Rossetti is implying that through death, she will get peace, “gone far away into the silent land. The use of “silent land” shows that death is an escape for the poet, because she describes death as a peaceful place. Rossetti is dealing with issues in her relationship between her lover.
Normally her lover is in control “you tell me of our future that you planned”, her lover planned their future, she has no input in the relationship, which is similar to stanza three of ‘A woman to her lover’. So Rossetti’s way of escaping her lovers’ control is through death, “gone far away into the silent land”; however later in the poem she begins to lose the control she once had at the start of the poem, “and afterwards you remember, do not grieve. Now she is telling the lover not to worry if he forgets about her, when she dies. This makes the readers feel less sorry for her, because of the position she puts herself into; being controlled. “Remember’ has the same pace throughout the poem, because she wants to get her message across to the readers and lover at a comfortable, understanding pace; that her relationship is in trouble , and she needs sympathy and empathy, from the readers. Rossetti uses the pronoun “you” a lot in the poem to get her readers attention.
Also to put the readers in the lovers’ position, so we can empathise with the situation her relationship is in. She also talks about “darkness and corruption”; perhaps metaphorically she could be talking about how her lover abuses his position as a man, this could be the “corruption”, the “darkness” allegorically could mean the problem of life, and the difficulty of life, which is why she wants to die. In Rossetti’s life she dealed with a lot of difficulty situation, and was a manic depressant, but with her problem she manages to write, a beautiful, subtle, poem about problems within relationships.
I like both of the poems, ‘Remember’, and ‘A woman to her lover’. The reason I like ‘A woman to her lover’, is because of the way I have interpreted it. I think the poem is like dating; when you are dating you experience different types of lovers, until you find the perfect one, suitable for marriage. This is what the poem seems like, dating. Also there is a strong rejection in the poem, “I refuse you”; it’s almost like being rejected, it is used twice in the poem because Walsh is empahsing her rejection to the lovers, by using repetition.
When Walsh wrote this poem she wrote it when men had a form of control over women in relationships. This is why the title challenges a stereotype at the time. In the last stanza she said, “But lover, if you ask of me that I shall be your comrade, friend, and mate”. I think it is true of women today; they are looking to be equals in relationships, or a marriage. Walsh is saying women deserve respect in a relationship. I believe that she is putting a political message across, rather than writing about love. Remember’ is very sad, and emotional, because someone could be dying, and the person is pleading to her lover not to forget her.
The reason I like it, is because it talks about sad events that occur in a relationship and how hard they are to get over, it gives a realistic idea of what relationships are like. I think this poem maybe about Rossetti, which is why she uses “you”, so the reader can empathise with her, and give her sympathy for what she went through. Remember’ is the title and was used five times in the poem, “Remember”. She uses repetition just like ‘A woman to her lover’; “I refuse you” was used twice. This is because both poets want to emphasise their points. Rossetti wants to be “remembered”, and Walsh is rejecting her lovers. Overall I love both of the poems, because they can be interpreted in different ways, and because they talk about love that everyone will experience throughout their life, from the moment they start dating.
I. e. Love will hurt when you and your first love depart, tragic love, when someone you love dies, and eternal love when you marry the right one. In addition when you celebrate the anniversary of marriage/ love, this is like another pre-twentieth poem studied, ‘A birthday’. This poem was written by Christina Rossetti, the poem celebrates the birthday of marriage and eternal love. This contrasts to ‘Remember’ which was also written by Rossetti.