How do some poets explore ideas of loyalty, love and relationships?

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How do Browning, Keats, Shakespeare, Rossetti and Donne explore ideas of loyalty, love and relationships in their poems ‘My Last Duchess’ ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ ‘Sonnet 116’ ‘Cousin Kate’ and ‘The Apparition’?

Love is perhaps the most expressed topic in media, since forever. The word ‘love’ is extremely ambiguous, able to be expressed in multiple ways. Love is often described as a double edged sword. It can mean all there is to one, an experience to be desired and pursued. To others, love is a poison, a drug, which slowly eats away your life and leaves you as nothing but an empty shell. Depending on who you are, love could mean either of these things. Or it could mean both. Poets too, have their own opinions on the subject of love, and often convey their feelings through their works of literacy. Examples of conflicting views on love can be seen expressed by the poets Browning, Keats, Shakespeare, Rossetti and Donne. How do these poets explore ideas of loyalty, love and relationships in their most well known poems?

A popular recurring theme featured in love poetry is the theory of true, eternal love. A kind of love which supasses all other infatuations and is often mentioned as ‘the most beautiful gift given to humanity’. Shakespeare expresses his belief of this theory in his 116th sonnet. Written in the 17th century, a time of which poets wrote about the mystical and metaphysical, sonnet 116 really stands out as among others poems as a deep and meaningful one, and serves as a semi-serious guide to love. In sonnet 116, Shakespeare expresses his view on loyalty in love, in which he writes: “Love is not love which alters with alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.” His view is thus; he believes that true love is so powerful, that once acquired, cannot be broken, even if it “bends with the remover to remove”, meaning if a partner were to be disloyal, true love would still still stay unbroken. Shakespeare also believes that it would be wrong in trying to separate two true lovers, as seen here: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds, admit impediments.” He sees a true couple as almost a religious blessing, as he refers to the marriage tradition, asking for reasons of which a couple should not be wed. Shakespeare later writes: “O no! It is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown, although its height be taken”. Again, Shakespeare is comparing true love to lighthouses and bright stars, suggesting that true love guides people to comfort, safety and happiness. He could also be expressing his thoughts on relationships, suggesting that even when things go bad, true love will still guide you through tough times and can repair your relationships. Shakespeare again, states that true love is forever, even though physical beauty will deteriorate, it will stay unbroken until the end of time. (“Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks, within his bending sickle’s compass come: love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.”)

Loyalty is an extremely important element which keeps relationships together. Many modern poets write about the sadness and depression they experience as a result of lost love. Browning’s no different from the rest. He too, believes that loyalty is key in love and he conveys his thoughts through his dramatic monologue, ‘My Last Duchess’. The poem was written in the romantic era (nineteenth century) and served as one of the greatest works of literacy at the time. ‘My Last Duchess’ shocked many with its dramatic context, and amazed many more with its hidden messages and its colourful suggestions. In ‘My Last Duchess’, Browning demonstrates the disastrous consequences of a lack of loyalty in love, and this is mainly shown through the death of a partner. Death is an arguably common occurrence in poems involving love and ‘My Last...
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