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An Analysis Of Love Poems English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1410 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The most common way people express themselves is through poems. People can express multiple different emotions through poetry, love being the most popular. Love poems can be written in different fashions. They can be written directly to someone, as in a wife girlfriend or just someone whom you care for dearly, or in a general sense. I have found it has a bigger impact when you write a poem to an individual person rather than a general poem.

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Poetry predates literacy and was used by ancient civilizations for oral records for their traditions, laws, and history. Some of the first forms of oral history were the use of epic poems. Some of the earliest poetry was orally recited or sung. With advancements in writing, poetry has developed into more structured forms. Poetry has veered from traditional formats to more of a free verse and prose format.

As a civilization we have developed a multitude of forms of expressing ourselves. The greatest contributing factor is our emotions themselves. As our emotions develop and become more complex, so does our writing of poetry. In this we find ourselves using different figures of speech in our writing. Some of these include the use of; similes, metaphors, alliteration, and euphemism. Within these few figures of speech you will find even more sub categories such as for the metaphor; dead metaphor, extended metaphor, mixed metaphor, and absolute metaphor.

The first poem that I will be discussing is “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Browning. For this poem love seems to be everything. The author tries to list different kinds of love and tries to define the different relationships between them. She finds herself finding out a different way of showing her love towards “thee”. The author poses a question in the first line “How do I love thee?” (Line 1), and tries to answer the question throughout the rest of the poem. The lines “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height” (Line 2), “My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight” (Line 3), “For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.” (Line 4), you can see that the author uses metaphor to express her love by comparing her soul to a tangible object. In these lines “I love thee to the level of everyday’s” (Line 5), “Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.” (Line 6), you can see that they are the only lines in this poem that show concrete imagery but even still these aren’t things that you could hold in your hands, they just describe kinds of light. Even still it is more of an abstract or vague lyric that seems to be of another world. The lines “I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;” (Line 7), “I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.” (Line 8), “I love thee with the passion put to use” (Line 9), you can see the use of anaphora, where they all begin the line with “I love thee,” which give the poem more of a parallel structure, like as in a list of showing ways that she loves this person. With the last line “I shall but love thee better after death.”, makes me think that with her loving someone better after death is more of a hyperbole than anything else. Overall this poem is one of the more straightforward poems that I chose. It was easier to read and understand, with not a lot of highly complicated or deeper meanings to dissect.

The next poem that I will be discussing is “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” (Sonnet 18) by William Shakespeare. In the first line the author asks a question, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (Line 1) it is more of a rhetorical question because he doesn’t want to know whether he should do it or not he just does it and spends the rest of the poem comparing his love to a summers day. In line 4 the author hints to how summer feels short. The author suggests that summer has is only borrowing the weather, and it must be given back when it’s over; the author accomplishes this by using metaphor and personification. Summer is kind of like a person renting a home, and the weather is like the house itself. In lines 7-8 a problem is presented that the author will work against, that problem being that sooner or later it will all fade away. In lines 9-12 the author uses different figurative language; most of this is pointing how the author is going to save his beloved from fading away. “Summer” is a metaphor for his beloved and its beauty is described in another metaphor as something tangible that can be given or taken away. Then there is a personification of death, as the overseer of the shade, also being a metaphor for the afterlife. In the last two lines of this poem the author states that as long as people are still alive on this earth this poem will live on through them making his beloved immortal.

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The final poem that I will be discussing is “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” (Sonnet 116) by William Shakespeare. The thought of marriage is strong in this poem from the very beginning. Although, the poet doesn’t necessarily think of marriage in this poem the way people typically do. Marriage as described in this poem is not a regular marriage; rather, it is a “marriage of true minds,” this phrase suggests a deep connection between two people, rather than a mere piece of paper saying you are married. In Shakespeare’s time, marriage was not just a bond between two people; women basically surrendered to their husbands when they got married and did whatever their will see fit. The marriage in Sonnet 116 definitely does not conform to this specific time period’s view of marriage. So for Shakespeare to write about loyalty, fulfillment, honesty, and commitment it was surely him thinking of how he would like to see marriage develop, or quite possibly reflects how some of his own relationships were. In the line “O no! it is an ever-fixed mark” (Line 5), the author describes love as an extended metaphor in which it is a star that we can see in the sky. He continues in line 6 to further personify it. This is also stating that the star is love and that it guides us in our worrying times. When the author mentions “tempests” I think of storms that may affect relationships, such as fights or arguments. In line 7 I can’t help but think that the wondering bark could be a metaphor for the lost lover, and he is being guided through a sea of trials and tribulations. In lines 9 through 10 the author personifies love and time. In the time when this author wrote this poem time was usually a reference to death, in this instance more like death as in the grim reaper. This signifies that time doesn’t have control over love, and that when time goes on it has no effect on his love.

Through my research I have found that there are many different ways that a love poem may turnout. They may be for the one you love like the ones that Elizabeth Browning wrote, heartfelt, sincere, and passionate. They may also be love poems that turn into writings such as ones from Shakespeare that some are directed towards the one they love but in all honestly seem more like a self proclamation of see I can write about you and both you and I are now immortalized. Or even such they could be love poems that describe the hard times and the guiding forces that make true love one that you may have to overcome multiple obstacles to acquire. The three poems that were analyzed in this paper are all similar in the sense that they are all tied in to love in some fashion or another but they are all different in the way they express their love and or the way that they have either already acquired their true love or they are simply trying to hold one to the one they love. During the timeframe of Browning and Shakespeare poems like theirs are some of the most world renowned poems of all time. Browning’s poem “How do I love thee” is actually one of the most quoted poems ever. Their poems have been an inspiration to countless other poets and I believe will continue to do so for all time. I hope that one day we will see another true poet rise up and be as highly known as these two have been. Only time will tell how our society will develop and influence our writing techniques.


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