“To his Coy Mistress”, By Andrew Marvell, “Sonnet”, By Elizabeth Barrett Browning and “Sonnet 138”, By William Shakespeare, these group of poems reflect both the negative and positive aspects of love. How do the poets you have studied use language and structural choices to affect the readers perceptions of what love is?
The traditional stereotypical view of love poetry is a romantic one. The poetry would have: angels, cupids and cherubs. Many poets have made references to the moon in romantic poetry because it is the symbol of everlasting love and purity. The person that the poem is written about is usually compared to objects that are precious and beautiful, for example: roses, diamonds, stars and rubies. The reader expects the poem to consist of rhyming couplets. The reader also expects the language in a love poem to be romantic and positive.Order now
Many poets have made reference to the moon in romantic poetry because it is the symbol of everlasting love and purity.
Both Marvel and Shakespeare deal with love as based on lies that help to progress love. Marvel writes about all the positive things that they would do if they had the time:
“To walk pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indians Gange’s side.
Shouldst rubies find:”
Furthermore Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 138” deals with a lover’s relationship that is based on lies:
“Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.”
On the other hand E.B.Browning is comparing a love as if it were as true as a religion. A similar technique is used by Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” in Act 1 Scene 3:
“If I profain with my unwortiest hand”
This is a section of speech from the play “Romeo and Juliet when Shakespeare compares loves as a religion.
Another example of religious references in love poetry is in “To his Coy Mistress”:
“I would love you ten years before the flood and you shouldn’t, if you please, refuse till the conversion of the Jeus.” These two events are given to create a measurement of time meaning that she can keep on refusing him unless she doesn’t reject him.
Andrew Marvell has presented the poem in a dialectic format, this consists of three parts:
a thesis, which is a statement
an antithesis, which is a counter statement
a synthesis, which is a resolution
The thesis of the poem is where the poem is where the poet says: “Had we but the world enough, and time, This coyness lady were no crime.”
The poet is saying that if they had all the time in the world, they could express their love thoroughly.
In the anti thesis, the poet writes about how they are running out of time.
“Times winged chariot is hurringing near.”
The verb “hurrying” is used to describe time as a “winged chariot” to show how quickly time is gaining upon us. The poet moves on to warm us that the only thing that we have to look forward to is the long boring process of death.
“And yonder all before us lie,
Deserts of vast eternity.”
The synthesis is when the poet reveals his solution is to make the most of their lives and give into their desires while they are still young and energetic.
“While the youthful hue
Sits still on they skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,”
The poet also uses emotions to structure the poem through out the three parts, to show progress of the relationship. The first two stages are about the speaker being separate from his mistress, using words like “I” and “You”. At the third stage they unite when he uses words like “us”, “our” and “we”.
On the other hand, “Sonnet 138” by William Shakespeare are structured in similar ways. Both have 14 lines with 10 syllables in each line and have a rhyming pattern. However, the rhyming scheme varies in both of the poems. Moreover, both of these sonnets try and work through solution for a problem. In “Sonnet” by E. B. Browning the poet is trying to explore the different ways to love someone. She begins this with a rhetorical question:
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
William Shakespeare tries to solve his problem of his lover being knowingly untruthful to him. The poets lover is lying to him about his physical appearance to flatter him. This problem is stated in the first line of the poem:
“When my love swears that she is not made of truth,
I do believe her but I know she lies,”
In comparison to Andrew Marvel’s “To his Coy Mistress”, the sonnets are similar because they also use a three part structure. However, only the first and third parts are similar because in the second stage of “To his coy mistress”, we get both sides of the argument and in the sonnets there is only one side. In the “sonnet” this is shown by repetition of the phrase “I love thee”. In “Sonnet 138” the poet also shows only one side of the argument into the poem. He shows this through using words like “she” and “her”. He then uses connectives to show both sides of the argument, for example: “Although”, “Wherefore” and “on both sides”.
The language that is used in “Sonnet” sounds similar to the terminology that is used within the bible therefore this poem sounds religious to the reader and comes across like a prayer. The religious vocabulary used is made up of the following words: “Grace”, “Praise”, “Faith”, “Saints” and “God”. As well as religious language, the words that are used in the poem also fall into two other categories, these are positive and negative, for example: “Smiles, tears”, “Purely”, “Death” and “Grief”. This variety of both negative and positive words are used to show that the poet will love the person for whom this poem is written lover throughout all the good and bad times of their life
The traditional stereotypical features of love poetry can be found in two of the poems that I have studied. Marvel uses the traditional features of love poetry in the thesis (statement) of his poem to give structure to the rest of argument in “To His Coy Mistress”. Marvel uses features such as lovers walking on a long hot day, he mentions exotic places and precious stones to measure love.
He also uses time to measure his love for his mistress. These are all features we would expect to see in love poetry. Furthermore, Browning also adopts the traditional features of love poetry though structure. The repetition of the phrase “I love thee” sounds like a short poem used in a typical valentines card. However the antithesis and synthesis parts of “To His Coy Mistress” and “Sonnet 138” reject the typical features of a love poem and they try to show a more realistic view.
“To His Coy Mistress” rejects the traditional view of love by persuading the mistress to love him through the fear of death. The reader may see this as a form of bullying into a relationship; when we really expect to see true love to be based on mutual feelings. “Sonnet 138” rejects the traditional view of love by showing a relationship that is based on lies. We as readers would expect a good relationship to be based on equal truth and honesty. Throughout this group of poems various structural and linguistic techniques have been used to affect the reader’s perceptions of love, however they all have a structured conclusion to help the reader form their own opinion.