Compare How the Theme of Love Is Presented in a Selection of Pre-1914 Poetry

Topics: Sonnet, Poetry, Iambic pentameter Pages: 20 (7672 words) Published: November 6, 2010
Compare how the theme of love is presented in a selection of pre-1914 poetry

The theme of love is a universal, timeless issue that has always been discussed and forever will be. People are searching for the true meaning of love and how it is different from person to person and from race to race. Everyone is amazed by how love can make people experience so many emotions and how love can bring sadness and happiness and confusion. ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ By John Keats and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ by Robert Browning for example both share the common theme of love, both lovers had to depart their loved ones whether due to societal pressures or due to the fact that the lover is from a different world. However the idea of women having power is portrayed in ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ in which an enchanting feminine figure causes the death of a powerful knight by enchanting and poisoning him. ‘Remember’ by Cristina Rosetti wants her lover to remember her but not to mourn her, however in both ‘Remember’ and ‘Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day’ both are addressing their loved ones in time of need and emotion. On a more cheerful, celebratory tone of love ‘Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s day’ by William Shakespeare and ‘How Do I Love Thee’ by Barret Browning, both lovers seem to worship their lover and they have written these poems to show their adoration and appreciation.

In keeping with the Victorian traditions ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, ‘How Do I Love Thee’ and ‘Remember’ all adapt a reflective and melancholic tone which draws upon the characteristics of the past time. All poems have a mention of the darker subject like death or unexplained love. All three poems have a serious tone and cover the theme of alienation and isolation. ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ is a romantics poem that portrays live of beauty and nature, things which could not be described simply by scientific terms. The poem has an emphasis on feeling, intuition and imagination over reason, there is enthusiasm for the ‘wild’, grotesque or irregular in nature and art. ‘Shall I Compare Thee’, the renaissance poems where the intensity of feelings are conveyed. Formal rules of the poetic form are followed out and the poem follows a smooth metre.

‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ both are written in ballad forms and they borrow some typical features from medieval romances. Both poems have a steady rhythm and harmonious rhyme scheme (abcb), and this is due to the use of alliteration which creates a lyrical cadence. In ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ the opening dialogue is anonymous, and an interpretation to this could be that this is to reflect upon the idea that the knight is merely a figment of imagination as indicated by the illusion of the content. The reader can also come to an interpretation that his is all a dream due to the fact that Keats could be illustrating the nature of the folk ballad which is sung by only one person. ‘Remember’ and ‘Shall I Compare Thee’ are both sonnets which convey intense emotion within stylistic and thematic constraints of the sonnet form. This, in turn, intensifies the emotion. Both have regular rhyme, scheme and beat.

The tone of ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ both vary dramatically, ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ includes some words from old and middle age of English, which help achieve the exotic or mysterious tone. On the other hand ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘Remember’ both have a mourning tone, due to the fact that each poem includes death which leads to sadness. ‘Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day’ and ‘How Do I Love Thee’ both have a celebratory tone of love and both poets, or speakers explain how they adore the ‘subject’ or lover.

All of the poems mentioned above use metaphorical language, conversely each poet uses them to convey different meanings and emotions. All poems use metaphors, similes and alliteration and all of them relate to love in a different way....
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