Lova as a Universal Trait

Topics: Love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Marriage Pages: 5 (1736 words) Published: April 29, 2008
Love as a universal trait

Love is a feeling that every person can relate to having no matter their religion or culture. As we grow up we as humans hear “I Love you” from many different people as well as say it to many different people for example our parents, siblings, or significant other. Again as we grow older our understanding of love deepens as we experience those different types of love, however, the love that is felt for a significant other is by far the most fulfilling. When reading “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” by Ezra Pound the love that these two women express is very different yet very much the same. Within these poems it is apparent that the two authors present two different responses to love and because of their different definitions both were changed and influenced by love differently as shown through their themes and structures; however, both poems reveal just how universal love really is.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of love states “love is defined as a strong affection for another arise out of kinship or personal ties, an attraction based on sexual desires, and attraction and tenderness felt by lovers”(online1). Writer William Clough, who wrote an article for the Journal of Psychology and Theology, adds to Merriam-Webster’s definition “love refers to attractions, liking: wanting to be with, to help, to please.” When analyzing both poems it is clear that both speakers feelings fit these definitions of love even though they express their love in different ways. Elizabeth Barrett Browning shows that she is religious by directly talking about God and an after life; therefore, her love is defined by her beliefs. According to Clough, a Christian’s view of love says that love can come from both within the person and from the reality in which they live in. A Christian’s view of love can look past flaws and focus on their wishes, hopes, and desires which they believe is “the best strategy for seeking a fulfilling life.”(23). Browning is also very direct when speaking to her lover. The first line in the poem is “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Even though she does not give the name of her lover it is clear that she has a specific person in mind then she answers her question by addressing herself and saying that she will count the different ways she loves him. Through out the entire poem she uses “I” and “my” which shows the reader that she is directly relaying her feelings to them. She explains the love that she holds for her beloved by telling them the extent of her love for example “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach” and “I love thee to the level of every day’s most quite need.” In these two lines the reader is able to tell the amount of love she has for her lover and that her love is runs deep. She also states that her love is unconditional when she speaks of loving him even more after death if God so chooses.

Pound’s speaker is much less direct about her feelings when speaking about her love even though she talks about herself a great deal but the reader is still able to feel the desire she has for her husband. When speaking about her husband she explains that they were child playmates that had an arranged marriage and that it took a year to fall in love with him and that the first year of marriage she was lonely and often “scowled” the marriage. Then in the second stanza she lets the reader in on just how much she loves her husband by saying “I desired my dust to be mingled with yours for ever and for ever and for ever.” She then returns to being conservative about her feelings and states how they have been apart for about five months. In Pound’s poem the speaker suggests her deep longing for her husband and the sincere feelings that she has for him but does not openly express them like Browning does. In being more conservative she has the vocabulary she uses to convey her love....
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