The poems I have chosen to analyse are written from a male and a female perspectives in the 18th and 19th centuries. All the poems describe the aspects of love and loss. Each poet is influenced by sad or happy events in their lives. Some poets share their joy and happiness, while others experience separation. The poems I have chosen are:
‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti. The poet celebrates love as a joyful event in her life.
‘How Do I Love Thee’ by Elizabeth Barret Browning. The poem is devoted to her partner with whom she shares her love.
‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti. The poet disscuses the aspect of loss and separation by death.
‘ When We Two Parted’ by Lord Byron. The poet conveys his negative feelings about separating.
‘A Woman To Her Lover’ by Christina Walsh. The poet requires co-equal relationship in the family and quality of marriage.
The first poem I am going to analyse is entitled ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti. The poet refers to celebration of love and raises the issue of marriage. The poet’s thoughts are consistent. In Victorian era people did not speak openly about the physical side of life that’s why Christina Rossetti expresses her feelings and emotions through similies and metaphors. The title of the poem ‘A Birthday’ is a metaphor for celebration of love and happiness. ‘ The singing bird’ is a simile which produces deep satisfaction. It also portrays Christina Rossetti as happy and joyful. The poem consists of two halves. There are four beats in one line and every second line rhymes. This type of structure helps to add rhythm to a poem.
In the first verse the poet compares her heart to a number of bright and colorful things that are full of life.
‘Whose nest is in watered shoot’.
As a woman Christina Rossetti extendes the meaning of fertility and family ‘nest’. This might also have the meaning of youth.
‘My heart is like an apple tree’, is a simile that produces strong visual imagery of children and spring time.In Victorian times it was important for a woman to have children in the family. Christina Rossetti uses literature symbols for fertility: ‘peacocks’ for male fertility and ‘pomegranates’ for female. Her reference to children is well expressed in metaphors ‘grapes’ and ‘thickest fruit’. These visual images depict children as the fruit’s of her pure relationships.
The poet likes to live in peaceful and comfortable atmosphere. ‘That paddles in halcyon sea’ is onomatopoeia that creates aurul imagery where the poet expresses her feelings of a marriage life.
The ‘doves’ is also a symbol of a peace and love.
In the second verse Christina Rossetti uses imparative verbs to ask for a special occasion: ‘raise me’, ‘hang it’ and ‘carve it’. The words ‘purple dyes’ is a metaphor for marriage. It tells a reader idea about the poet’s phase of life. Even the diction changes as the mood in the poem changes. An exaple of these are epithets:’gold’ and ‘silver’ that add to the richness of the describtion. The poet shares her joy and happiness. She wants to decorate opulent surroundings with sensual materials and ‘fleur-de-lys’ to make the day even more brighter. Assonance is used in the words ‘dyes-eyes’, ‘tree-sea’ to add to the rhythm of the poem.
‘Because the Birthday of my life’
‘Is come, my love is come to me’.
In the end of the poem, enjambment helps reader to understand the meaning of the poem- the omnipresence of love.
Christina Rossetti wantes the reader to feel the importance of love in the life, that is why she created the happy atmosphere of being in love. Love is celebrated like ‘A Birthday’ that emphasizes its meaning twice.
The second poem I have choosen to write about is a poem ‘How do I love thee’ written by Elizabeth Barret Browning in Victorian era. Her work was appreciated in the past as now in present. As a poetess of Victorianism, Elizabeth Browning expresses sentiments of love in a sonnet, since at that time it showed woman in her best role: loving and expressing emotions in a poem.
The poem ‘How do I love thee’ is devoted to her husband, with whom she lived in and ideal grace and dignity. Elizabeth Barret Browning expresses her love towards her partner and her language is restrained. It gives positive images of her love. The poet uses abstract nouns: ‘depth’, ‘breadth’ and ‘height’ to expand the largeness of her feelings. Her attitude towards her lover can also be seen from the describtion of her ‘soul’ – it’s limitless. The poet’s tone is religious in the first half: ‘ends of Being’, ‘ideal grace’, ‘souls’ and ‘saints’.
‘For the ends of Being. ‘And ideal grace’. Browning uses metaphor ‘the end of being’ for a bodily death and ‘grace’ for heaven. The poet conveys that her love has no boundaries-it’s eternal.
‘ I shall but love thee after death’. This implies that ‘death’ will not put restraints to their love instead it will be ‘better after death’. The second part of the poem is more down-to-earth.
‘Most quiet need by sun and candlelight’. The two images ‘sun’ and ‘candlelight’ help to create strong imagery, they’re metaphors for day and night.
‘I love thee freely as man strive for right’. ‘I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
This means the poet’s love is ‘pure’ and intense. She sounds optimistic and ready to fight for her love as ‘men strive for right’. Elizabeth Barret Browning also uses the words ‘praise’ and ‘childhoods faith’ as an approval and evidience of her feelings.
‘Smiles and tears, of all my life!-and, if God choose’,
This might suggest that love in addition to happiness, sometimes brings tears. The poet uses exclamatory sentences to show her strong feeligs. Throughout the poem the poet uses religious terms and vocablury: ..if God choose… From these I can say that she believes in ‘God’ and leaves her sentiments in his hands.
‘How do I love thee’ is a sonnet. The poem sonsists of two halves and each line is written in iambic pantameter. The rhyming scheme is abbba, abbba, cddece. The assonance of words: ‘height-sight’, ‘grace-praise’ make the sonnet rhythmic. Alliteration of purely, praise, passion also helps the rhythm of the poem going. Although the sonnet itself is simple, it’s complex in idea.
Elizabeth Barret Browning thoughts are consistent although the poem was written in Victorian era. ‘How do I love thee’ conveys the aspect of love. It can also be seen from the repitition of word ‘I love thee’ eight times. The poem is written with passion and love. Perhaps the personal emotions and events in life influenced the poet to write the poem.
The two poems ‘How do I love thee’ and ‘A Birthday’ decribe the aspect of love and both of them were written in Victorian era. However Christina Rossetti’s diction is more complicated ‘My heart is like an apple tree’ comparing to Browning’s straight words of her sentiments ‘Smiles and tears, of all my life!- .Elizabeth Barret Browning uses simple language and religious vocablury:’ideal grace’, ‘God choose’, ‘soul’ . Her thoughts are consistent.Christina Rossetti’s thoughts are inconsistent. Her feelings are expressed in metaphors: ‘ My heart is like a singing bird’.
The third poem is ‘Remember’ written by Christina Rossetti.The poet conveys her feelings about an aspect of loss. She gives clear instructions to her lover and relatives, what to do after she is ‘gone away’. The ‘ Remember’ follows the Petrarchan style. The first part presents poet’s vision and desires that become the subject of the poem. The poet’s tone is sad and melancholic in the first octave.
The imaprative verbs ‘Rember’ are used to give significant requests. As a Victorian poetess Christina Rossetti uses euphemisms: ‘silent death’, ‘gone away’ instead of direct words like death.
‘Remember me when I am gona away’. ‘Gone away’ is euphemism that stands for the word I die. The poet also depicts death as ‘silent land’. These indirect expressions make the poem sound more gentle and pleasant.
‘When you can no more, hold me by the hand’
The line creates tactile imagery, where Christina Rosseti suggests that after her death they will be disconnected, death will deprive them from any kind of physical contact.
‘Nor half I turn to get yet turning stay’.
The poem refers to death. She implies that she will leave the world ‘of being’ forever and there will be no ‘turning stay’.
‘Future that you planned’.
Christina Rossetti shows that she is relinquished to leave and regrets that the future her lover planned will not happen. In the second part-the sestet poet’s tone becomes more cheerful. She finds resolutin that will satisfy her desires.
‘Yet if you should forget me for a while’
‘And afterwards remember do not grieve.’
Christina Rossetti interprets to her partner that he ‘better by far’ ‘should forget and smile’, rather than dwell with the memories of her death-‘Than that you should remember and be sad.’
The ‘Remember’s’ rhyme scheme is abba abbba cddece. It’s a sonnnet in the Petrarchan type of structure.
Christina Rossetti expresses her feelings in a very sad and grieving way. The message of the poem to reader is to move on after the death of a dear person and ‘Remember’ him/her.
The two poems ‘How do I love thee’ and ‘Remember’ are sonnets written by female perspectives. The both of poems are written in Victorian era, when sonnets were epitome of appropriate poetry for women. Also the poetess were expected to express direct subjects in euphemisms. As it did Christina Rossetti in the poem ‘Remember’:’silent land, ‘corruption’. Whilst Elizabeth Barret Browning uses simple diction and direct language:’smiles’, ‘tears’, ‘grieve’ and ‘death’. She also uses religious terms: ‘God’, ‘Grace’, ‘end of Being’ that make her sound sincere. The poets’ tone in ‘How do I love thee’ is passionate. Christina Rossetti’s tone in ‘Remember’ is sad and melancholic. Both poems are written in first person and both devote them to their lover/partner.
The fourth poem I have choosen is ‘ When we two parted’. It is an autobiographical poem written by Lord Byron. The poet was influenced by sad events in his life. Lord Byron eloquently expressed his declined relationship in the poem. That is why the poem reflects on the aspect of separation and parting. The poet’s tone is melancholic and pessimistic. The poem consists of short four eight line stanza. It indicates interlude relationships between Lord Byron and Lady Frances Webster.
The poem has regular rhyme scheme abab and each stanza rhymes.
In the poem Lord Byron describes how bitter the saparation was-‘In silence and tears’.
‘Half broken hearted’. This suggest that only Lord Byron suffered. In their relationships, he was the half broken-hearted. The poet’s perception to Lady Frances Webster changed as her attitude to him.
‘Pale grew thy chick and cold.’ She fell out of love with the poet leaving after the cold and empty environment.
‘The dew of the morning’
‘Sunk chill on my brow’
The poet describes how his bleak and cold environment affected him and foretold the coldness of his heart. The poet expresses his anger towards the woman who deceived him. ‘Thy vows are all broken’, ‘And light is thy fame’. He also feels ashamed and betrayed. The poet is also aware that she had a bad reputation.
‘Thy name thee before me’,
‘A knell to mine ear’:
The poet tells how her name is the ring of a bell. It destructs him and is like ‘a knell’ to him.
Throughout the poem Lord Byron expresses feelings of ‘shame’ and regret. ‘A shudder come o’er me’. Lord Byron regrets the fragile relationships he was involved in. In the last stanza the poet describes how poignant he feels. He became affected by the situation and feels depressed:’ In silence I grieve ‘. His ex-lover betrayal is unforgivable and if the poet will ever meet her again, he would greet her ‘with silence and tears’.
The poem ‘ ‘When we two parted’ portrays the poet as an anguished person. At the time it was written men were expected to be emotionally strong. However Lord Byron subverts the situation and uses direct language as an approval of his griefe and sorrow.
The poems ‘When we two parted’ and ‘Remember’ evoke the feelings of sadness and restrainment. Separation is the main theme for both poems. In Chrsitina Rossetti’s poem lovers are compelled to part due to death ‘Remember me when I am gona away’. Whereas in Lord Byron’s poem the love is ‘half broken-hearted’ that make them to part.
The fifth poem I have choosen to analyse is ‘A woman to her lover’ was written by Christina Walsh in the late 18th century. At that time new ideas regarding women rights were spreading across Europe. The poet’s tone is confidient and self-assured. The poem is written in the form of stanzas in the free verse.
In the first stanza the poet rejects to be a servant in the family. She produces negative visual imagery ‘bondslave’ of marriage that isn’t based on equal rights. Walsh expresses her strong voice and rejection in exclamatory sentences: ‘ O, lover I refuse you!’ This portays the poet as self-assured woman. Christina Walsh also declines to be ‘a wingless angel who can do no wrong’. ‘ Wingless angel ‘ imitates a strong visual image of woman in the 18th century. Women’s power wasn’t dominant in the family and they had no freedom or choice. Christina Walsh dissaproves this kind of marriage, which is more like ‘ worship’. The poet also deprecats against being a ‘delight of her partner’s ‘clamorous desires’.
She stresses that she is a woman, who requires co-equal and respecful relationships in the family/marriage.In the last part Christina Walsh’s tone becomes more softer and caring. The poetess offers marriage based on respect and ‘love’ to ‘know the purity and height of passion’, and ‘of joy and sorrow’. She also discribes the ideal marriage that will last ‘until we reach the very heart of god’. Christina Walsh’s poem can be seen as a modern type of poem. It is written as some kind of marriage contract and has modern approach to love.Christina Walsh declares what she wants and expects from her husband in co-equal marriage. The poem was written two hundred years later, when women had any sort of power over who they could marry.
The poem ‘A woman to her lover’ is different fro the rest of the poems. It can be linked to Christina Rosseti’s ‘ Remember’. Both poets declare what they want.Christina Rossetti gives instructions to her partner. Christina Walsh declares her rights.
The themes of love and loss are explored in these collection of poems. These poems made me concern about the way different poets express their opinions about love and loss. Every poet expresses their sentiments in very immpresive way. Some of them show real examples from life. Some enjoy the smooth course of love while others griefe from declined relaionships. The emotional language used by poets enabled me to experience the emotions and feelings expressed in them.