Love Poems date back excuse the pun over 100’s and 100’s of years. Since language and writing began people have sent each other expressions of their love, pictures, gifts and poems. In each of the hundreds of spoken languages of the world there is a subsection of words to express the feeling of love, and these words are what makes the foundations of every love poem, however, each writer must then make their own feelings known with their own words.
Poems usually consist of a number of stanzas verses and often rhyme, although a poem does not have to rhyme contrary to some belief. There are many different kinds of poems, example a sonnet that has 14 lines or a limerick, which is a short rhyming poem. Often a poem has a sort of “rhythm” if you will, to which the words are meant to be said, this almost brings the words to life rather than it just being a piece of prose. What makes a love poem good?Order now
Well in all honesty I am not love poetry’s biggest fan, but there are love poems that I really like. The question I will try to answer now is what, in my opinion makes a love poem good. To start with I do not like a clichÃ©-ridden poem, which is one big soppy mess from start to finish, and I really despise the use of “baby” in a love poem or song. I find the term “baby” rather derogative in that it portrays the woman as weak and in need of protection, which is not a belief I hold.
Also, I do not like Love songs where the message is much too clear and not at all hidden, or concealed in any way, shape or form. Also for some reason it really bothers me when people either do covers of someone else’s songs because they are telling someone else"s feelings, not their own or if “manufactured” bands write 8 loves songs and slam it on a CD and call it an album.
Something I really like in a poem/song is when the true feelings of the writer are concealed behind an abstract metaphor and unusual vehicles are used to portray the feelings. This way the poem actually means something to the writer and the receiver rather than just being a “Baby I love you” poem. Often the vehicle used to “carry” the metaphor will only mean something to the person receiving the poem which I feel adds a nice touch, it allows us to read, but only understand what then writer wants us to understand.
Length is really not an issue with me because love is such a delicate emotion that it can take pages and pages to show hoe you truly feel about something, or if your so damn sure it’s the right thing it can take only wordsâ€¦ A Love poem/song needn’t rhyme in my opinion, it often bothers me that when a love poem rhymes the writer may have been looking for the word that rhymes rather than the word that properly portrays the feelings.
This often ruins a poem for me, but if the writer is clever enough to be able to show his feelings AND get a rhyme scheme in there then it can often make a poem leap from good to excellent, but saying that a none-rhyming poem could also be excellent and a rhyming one could be utter tripe. Music is a vessel that is perfect for showing affection with, and if used properly can propel a good love poem right to the stop of the “Casanova scale”.
The words of a song often mean nothing on paper, but the music lifts them up of the page into the third dimension if you will, and even ore so if the song has a video, the pictures can make the already great song come alive even further and make it “real” so to speak. One thing that I’m not a fan of in poetry is when a Poem is deeply personal, I much prefer it when a poem/song can be applied to many people’s situation and therefore more people than writer and receiver can relate to it. If a poem is very personal then there is no need for it to be published into public domain!
Well I’ve outlined what I think makes a good poem, and in short; it needn’t rhyme, needn’t be long/short, should convey hidden messages to a certain degree, must not be blatantly obvious to everyone around, and must not be too personal, but of course there will always be exceptions to the rule, for example there might be a poem that adheres to all the fundamentals I have written above, and it may be atrocious and on the other hand there may be a poem that disregards all the rules yet still touches me in such a way that I can enjoy and relate to it.
Someone once said something that pretty much summed up my own opinions, and that was “Originality makes for a decent love poem/song. Hidden messages and no clichÃ©s help a lot too” Words spoken by Zoe Cadwallider. Valentine is a rather unorthodox love poem by a poet named Carol Ann Duffy. It is what is called a “Metaphorical conceit”. This simply means it is one giant metaphor. Carol Ann Duffy refuses to use clichÃ©s in this poem and thus creates a fantastic love poem that really has meaning.
The first line of the poem is “Not a red rose or a satin heart” which quite nicely sets the poem up. What she means by this is that what will follow will not be the normal run of the mill love poem for Valentines Day. She writes about her own feelings about her lover, not what can be expressed in a rose or a satin heart. The next line is “I give you an onion, It is a moon wrapped in brown paper, It promises light, like the careful undressing of love”.
The onion of which she speaks may or may not be an actual onion but either way the message is easily conveyed. She is using the onion as a vehicle for her tenor, which is love. She uses the onion because it has many layers, as does a relationship. The “brown paper” is the skin of the onion, that you remove before you eat/cook it. The removing of the skin is the beginning of the relationship. The reason it promises light is because it is describing a fresh relationship full of possibilities and mystery. The next lines are “Here.
It will blind you with tears, like a lover”. These lines are very good as again it is talking about the relationship. The tears are not said to be of grief or of happiness and so we are free to decide for ourselves what she means, but after a close inspection its is actually talking about both kinds of tears. A lover could make you so happy you want to cry, but on the other hand, a lover could hurt you so much you need to cry. So the words are indicating that there is a possible “shark in the water” that needs to be watched for.
Sometimes this part of a relationship is referred to as the honeymoon, where everything is “hunky dory” and your happy, but the next lines show that the honeymoon is possibly over. “It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief”. These two lines are trying to say that ‘as you look into my eyes you can see yourself, but my tears are making the “photo” wobble’. Carol Ann Duffy is being incredibly honest here as she is saying that maybe she will let her lover down, and that maybe tears will be on the agenda.
Like she says in her next line “I am trying to be truthful”. “Not a cute card or a Kissogram” are the lines with which she introduces stanza three. She is again reinforcing the fact that this gift is different,. It both holds tears of joy and sadness. “I give you an onion, its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful”. This is a very powerful, and again honest couple of sentences as she tells her lover that her kiss will forever be on their lips and will be both possessive and faithful.
Meaning that she may become jealous of them if they are with another person, yet she is also re-enforcing the fact that she will be forever faithful “as we are, as long as we are”. As you look at the inside of an onion, the rings get smaller and smaller and smaller until they are very small, “loops shrink to a wedding ring, Lethal”. She is saying that the relationship will become ever more tight on the couple, ever more suffocating and entrapping until they are practically forced into thinking, ‘Lets get married and have kids then, we’ve done everything else’.
The last two lines of the poem are possibly the best, and most effective of the entire poem. “Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife”. I think what she is trying to say here is that she will be with her lover for a long time, and while her good side may create moments of intimacy that will be treasured, and touch and love which will be forever remembered there will also be moments where harsh truths, and betrayal may “cling to the knife”.
Again, the reason why this poem is unorthodox, yet so effective is that Carol Ann Duffy is talking about things that people don’t usually talk about on valentines day, because valentines day is more about romance than sex and commitment and so as she uses these themes she does so in a way that is very personal, yet it can be understood by many. Something that you may not have realised from the poem is that Carol Ann Duffy is actually gay.
Now its near impossible to be able to tell that from the words of the poem that she is writing to a female lover, so this shows us that the feelings a gay woman feels for another woman are almost identical to those which a straight man may feel for a woman vice versa or even indeed a gay man for another man. However, the next poem I am going to look at is a poem called “the Sun Rising” written by John Donne. It is what a close-minded person may think of as a generic love poem man to woman.
It was written in the late 16th century. This poem is almost the complete opposite of Valentine in the fact that the writer embraces clichÃ©s rather than rejecting them, but he uses and incredible and illustrious vocabularies to ‘re-dress’ these old used clichÃ©s and turn them into a new, original piece. The opening lines “Busy old fool, unruly sun, Why dost thou thus” do not immediately make us think that this is a love poem, however his words to the sun do fall into place in the intricate puzzle that is the poem. Through windows and through curtains call on us? ” He is talking to the sun, admittedly its not my way of doing things, but to give him the benefit of the doubt I think he is personifying the sun as all the people who try to force people to live the “proper” way of life, not allowing them lazy days where they do not wish to do anything, the sun is trying to wake the couple up and make them do something, this idea I think is backed up by the line “Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run”.
This line is sort of saying, why should our love work on time, why can it not be forever and above and beyond the constraints of time. “Saucy pedantic wretch go chide, Late school-boys and sour prentices, go tell the court-huntsmen that the king will ride, call country ants to harvest offices. ” Donne is once again telling the sun to go away and do something useful rather than just annoy him. He is telling it go and wake the people that need help waking up, like the school-boys who are late and the huntsmen who need to prepare the horses.
The next line, which reads, “Not hours, days, months, which are the rags of time” is once again asking why his love must be restricted by time. “Thy beams, so reverend and strong, why should thou think? I could eclipse them with a wink” This is where the poem really begins to work for me, as I aforementioned I really enjoy a poem that can illustrate its point clear enough for us to understand AND rhyme all at the same time has the potential to be a great poem, and this is no exception to that rule.
He is telling the sun that through all its power, and all its glory he still has power over it. He could simply block it out by closing his eyes. However, I don’t think he is genuinely suggesting that the sun should go away and leave him alone forever, he is simply asking the sun to stop being to big and boisterous and to just give him and his lover another 5 or 10 minutes. “But that I would not lose her sight so long, if her eyes have not blinded thine” this line, in my opinion, backs up what I just said about not being genuine about the sun leaving him alone.
He is also saying that he doesn’t want to loose the sun, as it would blind his lover. “Look, and tomorrow late tell me, Whether both th’Indias of spice and mine Be where though left’st them or lie here with me Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday And thou shalt hear, ” All her in one bed lay” These lines are possibly the most important of the poem in the terms of disguising the clichÃ© which is you are the most important thing to me.
He tells the sun to go over to India and check if the mines and the spices are still the most worthy thing around, and then to come back and compare them to his lover, which he believes is more important. He is going even further in the fourth and fifth line when he claims his lover is more important that the king, which in his eyes is probably true. The next elaborately dressed up clichÃ© is “Your everything to me” however he uses fantastic language to convey his point. She’s all the states, and all Princes, I; Nothing else. Princes do but play us; compared to this. ” Again this is simply saying that she’s more important than all the countries all the states, all the kings, queens and princes and that she is with him. Next he goes even further with the idea that she is super important to him by saying that love is the only real thing that is about, “All honour’s mimic” meaning that all honour is simply a copy of what someone has felt before. “All wealth alchemy”.
Alchemy was a middle age theory that with the right process you could turn lead into gold, however Donne thinks that this theory is silly and unimportant, as is wealth to him” Next he goes on to say how happy is lover makes him feel and that no-one’s happiness can even come close to this happy couple. “Thou, sun, art half as happy as we, In that the world contracted thus;” He is also possibly hinting that he is fitting into some kind of grand design with the mentioning of contract however this is just a whim rather than anything that can be backed up by a lot of evidence.
The next clichÃ© that Donne decides to use is “You’re my whole world” which is again done very cleverly and with a lot of fantastic language. He says: “Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be To warm the world, that’s done in warming us Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; This bed thy centre is, these walls thy sphere” These fantastic lines tell us that all the sun must do to warm the world is to shine inside the room, as to him, that room with him and his lover IS the entire world.
In conclusion I did not enjoy this poem quite as much as Valentine, however I did think it was a rather good poem, it has somewhat of a rhyme scheme going, it used fantastic and elaborate vocabulary to get its message across, but something lacked in the personal part of the poem, in that with all this fantastic language, maybe he was writing only to impress his lover rather than serenade her with writings of love. This begs the question; does love come from the heart, or the head?