A love poem is a piece of poetry that describes a positive emotion for one from another. Love poems can come in many different forms. There are ‘free verse’ love poems, where poets use no particular rhyming scheme or rules, but they let their poetry flow. You can also find many ballads about love. In Elizabethan times, often, sonnets were written to lovers or about them. These are fourteen-lined, short verses that often portray emotion very well. Love poems often use metaphors to describe emotion because ‘love’ is such a strong emotion that it can’t be described physically to another.Order now
Christina Rossetti was a Victorian poet who often wrote about love. In her poem ‘Amen’, it is hard to tell what she is writing about. It could be love or even life. At the start of each verse, she makes a definite statement and then questions it. She starts with ‘It is over. What is over?’ This implies that she is unsure of herself – or is not quite sure what is happening with her life or relationship. The poem acts out her thought process.
To start with, she seems sure that ‘It is over.’ Let’s assume that she is describing a relationship. She has a chance to think and decides that she doesn’t know what is over. This could imply that she doesn’t know which part of the relationship is over or why. She could be questioning it because although it may be over to him, it is far from over with her – she is still very much in love with him. Her questioning of her statement could mean that she doesn’t agree with it; deep down she feels differently.
Then, as if in confirmation of this, she denies that the statement is true.
Rossetti uses nature to describe how the relationship was built and why it still exists. She says ‘Harvest days we toiled to sow for: now the sheaves are gathered newly.’ By this, I think she means that hard work has been put into the relationship to make it work and so it is not failing, but a small ‘crop’ still exists and is still growing. A harvest is used to describe the relationship (or the life) of Rossetti. A harvest usually symbolizes life, comfort, food and mirth. A good harvest is a positive thing.
In the next verse, again, she still seems very unsure of the way things are going in her life. Another one of her thought processes is used to begin the second verse. She states, ‘It is finished.’ But then goes on to ask, ‘What is finished?’ – very unsure. However, in this verse, she decides to agree with her statement that yes, much has finished. She says, ‘Lives are finished; time diminished; was the fallow field left unsown?’ By this, I think she is trying to say that, although the actual relationship or her life hasn’t ended, much has. I think that she is trying to say that whilst trying to make relationships work or perhaps trying to fulfill an ambition, she had been wasting time because now, her chances may be lost, after all that work! In this verse, she seems to be asking herself whether or not the whole thing wasn’t just a waste of time.
In the third verse, she states, ‘It suffices’ and she seems to be a lot more positive about love. She says, ‘spring shall bloom where now the ice is.’ She believes that everything will be all right in the end, even if it seems like a waste of time at the moment. Again, she uses nature to describe the love and/or happiness she will feel. Spring is a season where new life is born, blossoms flower and all the snow melts, like a new start. I think this is what she sees will happen – a new start. Instead of cold, hard ice there will be joy and new life. She is hopeful.
Rossetti’s attitude to love is one of great disappointment that she might have lost it, and great excitement that she might regain it. She obviously sees love as a wonderful thing that should be treasured and looked after.
Another of Rossetti’s poems is ‘A Birthday’. This poem was written at a time when Christina was deeply in love and enjoying the relationship – not unsure persona she probably resembled when she wrote ‘amen.’
The first verse describes how happy she is because her love has come to her. She says ‘my heart is like a singing bird’ as her first line. A bird can fly and sings when it is contented so Rossetti’s heart must be very glad. The overwhelming power of her love and emotion comes through metaphorically when Rossetti says things like, ‘…Like an apple tree whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit.’ This conjures a mental picture of a wild-place, brimming with life. In the middle is an apple tree full of so much fruit and life that its’ boughs are breaking. If you compare this to a heart, as Rossetti does, you can imagine a feeling of immense Love and passion. However, Rossetti also talks of her heart as a shell, ‘That paddles in a halcyon sea.’ The thought of a delicate shell in a tempest of waves implies that, like the shell, Rossetti’s heart was very vulnerable when she wrote this poem. Rossetti says that all this is because her love has come to her.
In the second verse, she explains that this feeling that she possesses is so outstandingly brilliant, that she must be raised high and praised. Everyone has to know about it and see how special it is. She says, ‘Raise me on a dais of silk and down.’ – she wants to be raised high so everyone can see how happy she is. Silk and down are both very expensive materials that only royalty can usually afford. By using these expensive materials in her description, it helps her to put across how special and elated she feels when she is in love.
I think that the poem is called, ‘The Birthday’ because her lover coming to her is almost like receiving a very special gift. When you get given something that you’ve really wanted, sometimes it is like having your birthday because you are the special person it is being given to.
In this poem, again, Rossetti seems to think that love is the most wonderful thing. In both poems, Rossetti has shown a great need for love to be happy. However, in both poems, she also comes out delicate and needy. In ‘Amen’, she is very confused, and wanting something beyond her reach. In ‘A Birthday’, she is described as ‘a rainbow shell.’ This is another sign of her vulnerability.
To have a contrast, I have also looked at a poem by Christina Walsh. Walsh was an eighteenth century poet. I looked at ‘A Woman To Her Lover’. This poem really surprised me because its theme was one of the woman having authority over the man and yet Walsh is an eighteenth century poet and women didn’t have much say in those days. Her use of language is also very clear and easy to understand. Rossetti uses nature in her poems to glorify emotions. Walsh doesn’t use complicated descriptions, but she still manages to get the point across very well. In the poem, it is debatable whether or not she is talking to one interested suitor, or in general to any suitors that come along.
In the first verse, Walsh is in control immediately. She describes an image of a relationship she could have, making it sound terrible. She says ‘to bear you children, wearing out my life.’ You cannot take this in any other way than that this is not what she wants. She describes a relationship, asking the listener if this is the type of relationship he wants. She says, ‘No servant shall I be.’ This means that she doesn’t want a dictator, but a relationship where she gets her say in matters as well as the man. It means that she actually wants to enjoy the relationship. She says ‘Oh lover I refuse you’. By saying this, she is asserting her authority over a man and saying that in this matter, she has more say than he does. This must have been quite a revolutionary thing to write in the eighteenth century for a woman.
In the second verse, Walsh describes another type of relationship that she will not enter into. She uses religious words to help her to put across the fact that she doesn’t want to be over-praised or seen as being perfect. Instead, she would like a realistic relationship with a partner that is sincere, and doesn’t make her feel uncomfortable. She says, ‘I am no doll to dress and sit for feeble worship.’ Walsh knows that she isn’t perfect, and she knows that she never will be – she would like a man to accept that and still love her.
In verse three, Walsh says, ‘than gratify your clamorous desire.’ His clamorous desire is to have sex. Walsh refuses also to enter into a relationship based around sex. She says that she will not willingly enter into a relationship that is just for him.
In the last verse, Walsh describes the type of relationship she will enter into willingly. She needs trust, loyalty, a friendship and comradeship; she wants the relationship to be equal and realistic. Walsh says, ‘Together we may know the purity and height of passion, and of joy and sorrow.’ By this, she means that she would like a soul – mate that she can share all her experiences with, the good and the bad.
She then goes on to explain how she will feel if this man did come along, she would become totally engulfed with her love for him. She would feel secure in the relationship because she would trust him to give back the love she gave. She describes the potential love between them as something that would be the most perfect thing ever. She says ‘hand holding hand until we reach the very heart of God.’ By this, I think that Walsh means that they will happily spend their lives together until they die and reach heaven. It could also mean that they spend their lives together until their love cannot become more perfect and takes its place with God.
This poem has no real rhyming scheme so I find it more passionate and flowing than those by Rossetti. I think Walsh’s’ attitude to love is different to Rossetti’s. Both see it as a wonderful thing but I feel that Rossetti doesn’t ‘decide’ whom she loves, but lets herself love anyone. I don’t think Rossetti is practical enough to think abut how the relationship will be long-term; she is passionate and gets caught up in the moment. Walsh, however, thinks about relationships far into the future and is brave enough to say ‘no.’
I think, out of the two, Walsh’s love has to be the truest, because she doesn’t assume that everything will be perfect just because there is love. She realizes that things aren’t always to plan – so she plans in advance. Of the two poems, I enjoyed Christina Walsh’s poem more.