Pre 1900's Poetry

Topics: Poetry, Sonnet, John Keats Pages: 7 (2881 words) Published: November 9, 2011
Many poems, written before the 1900’s, express the emotion of love. Each poem explores the meaning in a different way and in different forms. In this essay I will be investigating three different poems/sonnets; La Belle Dame Sans Merci written by John Keats, Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning and last but not least Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare. All of these have very different aspects and views, this is what makes them so interesting to compare because of the wide contrast involving the three poems. La Belle Dame Sans Merci is a ballad written by an English poet, John Keats. John Keats lived between the years 1795 – 1821, his life cut short by tuberculosis. By this time, he had been writing serious poetry for barely six years but, even so, he was a very accomplished English poet. This ballad was written in 1819, this was only three years before his death. This ballad was one of the five poems to be written by Keats in 1819. It is a dialogue between two speakers: an unnamed speaker who is talking to the knight and the knight himself. The word ballad is originally French and its meaning is a “dancing song”. They are narrative poems, made up of quatrains (four line verses), they follow the rhyme scheme a-b-a-b, and often use very simple stanzas. Many ballads are about tragic things, therefore La Belle Dame Sans Merci is about tragic love. This ballad is considered an English classic and follows the strict ballad structure. This title is French and means ‘The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy/Pity’. This title is rather strange, as we, the reader, wonder why John Keats could not just have called this poem ‘The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy/Pity’. It is believed that he called it this because of an earlier piece of work by a French poet, Alain Chartier. Alain Chartier’s poem is a medieval romance and Keats poem is all about knights, faeries and fair women, these are all related with medieval times. Consequently, when Keats took Chartier’s title as his title he was associating his poem, ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ with Chartier’s poem, ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’. Porphyria’s Lover’s title however is original but before it was published as ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, it was published under two other names. Its first name was simply ‘Porphyria’. I think Browning decided against this title because it was purely based on the victim, Porphyria. It did not give us any clues as to who the narrator is. The second title, Dramatic Lyrics, is actually not just the title of one poem but a collection of poems. All of these were written by Browning. Later in 1863 Browning changed the title for the final time to ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. This title was perfect because it tells us who the speaker and victim both are. It also gives a mysterious atmosphere, as we never really find out the name of the speaker. Porphyria’s Lover is a poem written by Robert Browning. Robert Browning was born in 1812 and died at the age of 77 in 1889. He is known for writing dramatic verses in dramatic monologues. This poem consists of one stanza 60 lines long. The rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-b and this is Robert Browning’s first ever, short dramatic monologue of many to come. The monologue is told in first person by Porphyria’s Lover and the speaker does not change throughout the whole poem. Sonnet 18 is like Porphyria’s Lover in the sense that the narrator does not change. The narrator is not really known because it could be Shakespeare or someone else as it never gives the exact name. What we do know is that this is what the narrator is saying to his beloved. Sonnet 18 is a very famous sonnet written by William Shakespeare in approximately 1593. William Shakespeare was alive between the years 1564 and 1616. He was an English poet/playwright and is known across the globe for his great writing skills. This was one of the 154 sonnets to be written by Shakespeare and is sometimes referred to as ‘Shall I Compare Thee’. The title is Sonnet 18 because Shakespeare wrote so many sonnets...
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