Compare and contrast the theme of love and/or loss in a range of pre-1914 poetry Essay

essay B

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

A sonnet is a 14 line poem with a strict, but changeable, rhyme scheme and they mostly have themes about love and/or loss. The sonnet form has always had a place in English poetry since the sixteenth century. The greatest day for sonnets was the Elizabethan period as thousands of sonnets were written in this era.

In this period many poets, such as Edmund Spenser, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Georgina Rossetti, Sir Philip Sidney, Henry Howard and William Shakespeare bought innovative ideas about writing sonnets.I will be looking at three poets in this essay, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Georgina Rossetti and William Shakespeare. I will be analysing Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, “Sonnet 1”, Christina Georgina Rossetti’s sonnet, “Remember” and William Shakespeare’s sonnet “Sonnet 71”.There are two types of sonnets; the Italian sonnet and the English sonnet. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet and Christina Georgina Rossetti’s sonnet are both Italian sonnets. Whilst William Shakespeare’s is an English sonnet which can be identified by the fact that the last two lines rhyme.

I will start by writing about Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She had 11 siblings and was the eldest child of Edward Moulton Barrett; he was a very wealthy man because he made his money from Jamaican plantations. Barrett Browning was born near Durham and lived during her young years at Hope End, Herefordshire. Barrett Browning’s father maintained on organizing every part of his children’s lives. So much so that he did not agree to let them marry.

In 1838 Barrett Browning became critically ill after bursting a blood vessel and so was dispatched to Torquay for treatment and to recover. She returned to London but stayed ill her whole life. In 1845 Elizabeth Barrett Browning met and fell in love with Robert Browning. They knew her father would never allow them to marry and so they eloped and left to live in Italy.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning talks about love in the first sonnet, “Sonnet 1”. This varies somewhat from the other two sonnets, “Remember” and “Sonnet 71”, as they talk about love and loss. These two sonnets discuss how they want their loved ones to remember them when they are dead however not be sad. Whereas, Barrett Browning’s sonnet discusses how she is “sad” about her life and illness, yet she has so much love for her husband.

Also, how her husband is there for her during her illness and is the hope in her life.First and foremost, Elizabeth Barrett Browning mentions the great poet Theocritus and of how his poems made her think about her own life. The second line has repetition within it as the word “years” is mentioned twice. This is an earthly quality and the line emphasises on time. There is alliteration of the letter ‘g’ in lines three and four with the words “gracious” and “gift”. Line four is expressing religion as it is saying how God has given us the “gift” of life and He controls how long we live in this world.

Also the opposites “old” and “young” contrasts showing us how anyone can die at any age. The words “antique tongue” have assonance as the letters ‘u’ and ‘e’ are repeated. Sibilance appears in line seven with the words “sweet” and “sad”.Once again there is repetition of the word “years” in line seven. This makes Barrett Browning’s life seem stretched out and she has suffered for a long time. Lines two and seven are similar as they are both talking about the “sweet years” and they both have repetition of the same word.

The octave of the sonnet is basically talking about how she became “sad” when she thought about the “shadow” of illness which she has lived under. The sestet of the sonnet discusses how she thought “death” was going to take her but in actual fact it was “love” from her husband, Robert Browning. Once more there is sibilance with the words “shadow”, “straightaway” and “shape”. The capitalisation of the letter ‘s’ in the word “shape” demonstrates that the thing behind Barrett Browning was something unearthly (e.g.

death).There is alliteration of the letter ‘b’ in the words “behind” and “backwards”. Elizabeth Barrett Browning uses the word “silver” in her final line as it is her husband talking and he is the hope in her life. The word silver puts an image of something pure and treasurable into your mind.

The words “death” and “love” are used in the final line and it brings into light just how close the two are.The tone of the sonnet is sad but in the sestet the tone lightens a little. The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is as follows; ABBA, CDDC, EFEFEF. This pattern makes it easy for the reader to have a flow with the sonnet.Christina Georgina Rossetti was born in London on December 5th, 1830. She was a dedicated associate of the Church of England.

You can see how strong her beliefs were because when her fianc�, James Collinson, became a Roman Catholic she broke off the engagement. She had a wide range of writing as it included love poetry, religious poetry, prose, ballads and lyrics.The tone of the sonnet “Remember” is wistful. The rhyme scheme is as follows; ABBA, ABBA, EFFGEG. This is an Italian sonnet as you can see in the octave there are two rhymes; four (A) rhymes and four (B) rhymes.

There is repetition of the word “gone” this adds to the effect of death. The word “remember” is repeated throughout the whole sonnet five times. The significance of this is that the reader is drawn into the sonnet more as they notice the word being repeated again and again. The words “silent land” are implying death. The reader then gets an image of a sad, ‘silent’ place.

Assonance are in the words “you”, “no”, “more” and “hold” as the letter ‘O’ is repeated. There is a volta at line nine when she says the word “yet”.The sonnet is saying how Rossetti is going to die one day and no one can pray for her. She wants her loved ones to not “remember” her and “be sad”. She would rather have them “forget and smile”. I imagine that the love she possessed for James Collinson motivated her to write this sonnet.

Additionally, the reason that this sonnet is so well loved is due to its simple language and the reader can take their own opinion and interpret the sonnet in their own way. The theme of the sonnet is of love and loss as she will be dead but is expressing her love for her dear ones. This sonnet is very similar to Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 71”. They are both saying that they don’t want the people that they leave behind to be sad about their deaths.Shakespeare was one of the greatest writers in the English language. His existing works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems.

He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18.The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is as follows; ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG. Seeing as the last two lines rhyme we can tell this is an English sonnet. The sonnet is about loss and love just like “Remember” as they both talk about how they don’t want their loved ones to be sad about their deaths. But the two sonnets also contrast as “Remember” is an Italian sonnet whilst “Sonnet 71” is an English sonnet.Sibilance is used in the second line of “Sonnet 71” with the words “surly sullen” as well as assonance because of the repetition of the letter ‘u’.

The effect of this is that it creates a hissing sound and it slows the reader whilst they are reading. Also there is repetition of the letter ‘w’ in the words “warning” and “world”. There is repetition of the word “vile” and “vilest”. The effect of this is that the words stick in your mind. Once more the letter ‘c’ has repetition on the words “compound” and “clay”. The effect of this is that it aids in memory.

Again the letter ‘l’ has repetition on the words “let”, “love” and “life”. The words “wise world” has repetition of the letter ‘w’.Overall, all three sonnets are about love but ‘Sonnet 71’ and ‘Remember’ are about love and loss so they are more similar. Barrett Browning talks about her life and how it is so sad until she met her husband, whereas both Shakespeare and Rossetti talk about how they want their loved ones to not be sad and upset when they die.

They say they would rather have people forget them and be happy then remember them and be sad. Moreover, Barrett Browning and Rossetti’s sonnets are Italian whilst Shakespeare’s is English.

Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member
unlock