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    A Comparison of Love Poetry Essay

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    The two poems we’re going to compare are ‘ First Love’ written by John Clare in the 19th Century and ‘ To Virgins, to make much of time’ written by Robert Herrick in the 17th Century. Booth poems deal with the issue of ‘young love’. ‘First Love’ is the poet’s account of love at first sight. Whilst ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ is a more sexual orientated poem.

    The poem ‘ First love’ has three stanzas, each stanza contains eight lines. The poem is written by a man reflecting back on a past experience with first love. The title ‘ First love’ gave me the impression that it was going to be a smutty, romantic poem. We can assume that the poet’s heart could have been broken by a first love experience.

    In the first stanza John Clare uses powerful verbs like struck and stole to demonstrate how quickly he was swept away by the power of love. He also uses alliteration to represent the impact the girl has on his life.

    ” So sudden and so sweet.”

    Clare has only just set eyes on this girl but already he’s using a simile to compare the girls face with natural beauty.

    ” Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower” A flower represents passion he believes her face is delicate and exquisite.

    Already he can’t walk away. He’s paralysed by her beauty. The girl has an immediate effect on the man and he begins to feel ill. Clare uses the adjectives pale and deadly to describe how he feels. This is where you first get the impression that the poem may not have such a cheerful ending. Clare ends the first stanza with the metaphor.

    ” My life and all seemed turned to clay” This emphasises the effect that the girl has on the man.

    The second stanza begins with the poet referring to blood. Blood represents the lust and passion the man has for the girl. He begins to blush and everything goes black because he’s totally focused on the girl.

    ” Seemed midnight at noon” He can no longer speak he’s dumbstruck by her presence.

    ” They spoke as chords to from the strings” He uses this metaphor to compare the words coming from his eyes to a musical instrument. Possibly a violin, which is a symbol of romance and being serenaded by sweet music.

    The final stanza begins with a different tone.

    ” Are flowers the winters choice” winter is a symbol of cold and fear. It’s ironic because in the first stanza he compared her face to a beautiful flower and now he believes that the flower is the choice of evil. Clare makes another reference to the winter in the next line.

    ” Is loves bed always snow” Earlier on in the poem there was a warm, passionate atmosphere but this dies off in the final stanza.

    The girl has ignored the man and he’s left alone, dejected. He believes his heart has disappeared and will never return. He’s heart-broken and can’t fall in love again.

    This poem isn’t blatantly addressed to anyone but it could be addressed to young people warning them of ‘First love’. The man in the poem is na�ve and the poet is trying to warn youths of the power of love.

    The poem doesn’t use any punctuation, which demonstrates how confused and frantic the poem is. It’s as if the pace of the poem cancels out any punctuation.

    The poem ‘To virgins, to make much of time was written by Robert Herrick in the 17th Century. The poem has four stanzas each containing four lines. From the title my first impression of the poem was that it was a poem addressed to virgins, a message from an older person to the younger generation.

    The language used in the poem is very old fashioned; this is evident from the beginning.

    “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,” The language used is common for the time it was wrote. The first line translates to ‘seize the day’ but Herrick refers to a rose, which is a symbol of youth and innocence.

    “Old time is still-a-flying” Herrick uses personification to tell virgins that time goes quickly and that it’s important to make the most of your time. The first stanza has a warm, content atmosphere but the last line demonstrates that life won’t always be so happy. ” Tomorrow will be dying”

    Herrick uses superlative adjectives to create a powerful beginning to the second stanza.

    ” The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,” Herrick compares a man’s penis to a glorious lamp of heaven. This could be seen as taking advantage of the fact that a lot of young women were religious. He makes it sound as if God has given permission for virgins to have sex. Humans can’t live without the Sun so maybe he’s trying to say you can’t live without sex.

    ” And nearer he’s to setting.” He’s trying to tempt virgins to have sex before the male gets disinterested.

    In the third stanza Herrick makes the point that when you are young you are beautiful and full of confidence but as you age your confidence and looks disappear.

    ” When youth and blood are warmer;” He’s trying to say that when your younger your warm and full of energy. You’re at your peak.

    ” But being spent, the worse, and worse” As you get older sex will get worse and worse and will not be as enjoyable is the message Herrick is trying to get across here.

    In the final stanza Herrick states that if you will regret not having sex at an early age in years to come. He tells the reader that it’s vital to use your time wisely and not have a guilty conscience or dwell on past experiences.

    “You may forever tarry.”

    You will regret not ‘seizing the day’.

    This poem has a warm, relaxing feel to it. The poet uses lively, passionate verbs and adjectives to give the poem a sexy but peaceful atmosphere.

    The poems ‘First love’ and ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ booth revolve around love, But in their own ways they are very different. Booth poems use flowers and blood to create a smutty feel to the poem. In ‘First love’ the man compares the women’s face to a sweet flower. The flower in ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ is a symbol of virginity and youth.

    ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ maintains it’s warm but serious atmosphere throughout. However there is a contrast between the atmospheres at the beginning from the end of ‘First love’. The tone at the start of ‘First Love’ is sentimental and lively but it ends with the man feeling sad and lonely.

    The poem ‘First love’ flows much quicker and smoothly than ‘To virgins, to make much of time’. It has no punctuation, which enables it to flow freely. The language used in ‘To virgins, to make much of time” is difficult to read and it jeopardises the pace of the poem. You have to read it a few times before you can make perfect sense of the poem.

    When you juxtapose the two poems it’s evident that ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ is clearly addressed to young women, whilst it’s not clear whom ‘First love’ is actually addressed to. The voices in the poems are that of the poets. John Clare is telling a story about ‘First Love’, it could be the poet reflecting back on a past experience but it’s not that clear. ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ however is the poet encouraging young virgins to have sex.

    Booth poets frequently use poetic devices and superlative adjectives to make the poem more effective. There are a number of simile’s and metaphors used in booth poems.

    ‘First love’ has a sudden, confused feel about it whilst ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ is far more direct.

    The man in ‘First love’ is na�ve and immediately falls in love with a girl who he has only just met. Herrick’s poem is addressed to virgins who could be seen as na�ve and vulnerable. In some aspects the poems are very different but in some they are very similar. The tone of the poems is quite different but in some instances the style of writing is quite similar.

    Out of the two poems I prefer ‘First Love’ because I like the fact it’s so melodramatic. It’s quite amusing how a man can fall in love so suddenly and then be heartbroken without actually speaking to the girl. The lack of punctuation makes the poem seem surreal as if the man’s life is stuck on Fast Forward. Everything in the poem happens so quickly; It’s a unique style, which operates effectively.

    ‘To virgins, to make much of time’ is addressed to the female sex and in my opinion is fairly repetitive. The poet encourages virgins to have sex at an early age. Herrick has a stereotypical view of virgins and his message is repeated throughout the poem. Herrick doesn’t use as many poetic devises as Clare and I found it much harder to understand.

    These two romantic poems demonstrate that there is a lot of love poetry. Each poem is addressed to different people and each poem has a different message.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    A Comparison of Love Poetry Essay. (2017, Oct 25). Retrieved from

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