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Variation on the Word Love

By DarcyDev Nov 07, 2013 847 Words


Variation on the Word Love

The purpose of this study is to explore the boundaries of our knowledge by exploring and analyzing Margaret Atwood’s “Variations on the Word Love”. In this poem, the poet defines a wide range of different types of love. As described by the Poet, each aspect of love that can be experienced is completely different and unique.

The poem “Variations on the world love” is divided into two concrete segments. The purpose of dividing this poem into two unique sections is directly related to defining and assessing the word “love” in two unique ways. In the first stanza, Atwood has defined love as an “expression”, as the aspect of expressing love, where as the second stanza is dedicated to define love as “feeling”. There is also a noticiable difference in tone of the poet in the two stanzas, this is what makes the poem unique.

The first stanza describes her attitude towards love quite spitefully, this is also evident in the poem when she defines love as “a word we use to plug holes with”. This line proves the harshness in the tone and writing when Atwood describes love, and the description of love in such a manner also exhibits the insignificance of the word “love” (Atwood line 1). In the same stanza, she also explored and expanded her idea that love has become too commercialized such as with “[Valentine's Day cards] that look nothing like real hearts, add lace and you can sell it” (4-6). In these lines, Atwood has strived to illustrate that the meaning of love has faded with the passage of time, such as it does not have the same place, worth and meaning it had previousy possesed. The word love has not only been exploited but also misrepresented by the people.

Although, in the first stanza, she has expressed some sourness in her tone, and words in describing love, in the second stanza, the voice and words completely altered such as in the beginning of the second stanza she stated “then there's the two of us. This word is far too short for us, it has only four letters” (21-24). After reading this line in continuation, one can clearly identify that the expressions of the poet regarding love has changed. We can clearly see that the bitterness and sourness of Atwood was not actually towards love, but is towards those people who have distorted and exploited love for the sake of their own benefits.

She feels strongly that the word "love" (28) is "not enough but it will have to do" (30-31) and concludes the poem by leaving the readers to decide on their own, if they want to "hold on or let go" (36-37) of love. This depicts that love has diverse and unique impact on different people; proves the subjectivity of the word love. The poet further illustrates that each aspect of love, be it verbal or non-verbal, is dissimilar and complex in nature. The poet clearly illustrates that love does not have definite structure or strict pattern; it has a wide range of variation. These variations do not allow the word love to be defined or explained in a definite singular pattern. Each aspect of love holds different meaning depending on the environment and the person expressing it. Atwood defined love as an abstract and complex topic; it is difficult to establish a precise definition of love. However, it can be considered a set of behaviors and attitudes, either unconditional or disinterested, which manifest between beings with the ability to develop emotional intelligence. The poem also illustrates that love is often directly associated to romantic love, that involves a passionate relationship between two people. However, the term can also be broadened to allocate other relationships, such as family love, platonic love, and other broader meanings (love God or love of nature, for example). In all cases, love is a feeling of great affection. Love is not a biological concept. Various expressions related to love, are not related to survival. Thus, we can mention the sex for reproductive purposes and altruistic behavior. She also explained in her poem that love is never enough to amplify the emotions in relationships. The intensity of love has various dimensions, which still are yet to be discovered in modern times.

After analyzing this poem, it can be said that in order to express love or being loved it is necessary for us to believe in the notion of love. It is a set of behaviors and attitudes, unconditional or disinterested, which manifest between beings with the ability to develop emotional intelligence. The notion of love has three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. The phenomenon of love has faded with the passing of time. It no longer has the same depth and value that is so previously held. The evolving time has changed the intensity of love. In modern time love is conceived moreas a temporary feeling, that saturates and vanishes with the passage of time. Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret, Selected poems II: poems selected & new, 1976-1986, Oxford University, (1986), p. 82

Word Count: 911

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