Compare and contrast the treatment of love and loss
Love is one the ways of showing emotional feelings to another person; it is the thing that makes us human. It is about passion, romance, commitment and loyalty. But love isn’t always as it seems, it has a darker side of envy, jealousy, betrayal, affairs, pain and hate. Love can be explored in various ways; parental love, friendships and relationships. It is not always clear why and hoe people fall in love but that doesn’t matter because it is all about the feelings you get out of it, good and bad. Love is addressed widely in our societies in our magazines, on television, films, and in books.
I am now going to discuss two poems by Auden and Walsh that explore love and loss in different ways. “The Despairing Lover” is about a young fickle man, Damon, who loves “Phyllis the fair”. No matter how hard he tries “he could not move her”. His rejection by “Phyllis the fair” drives him to a “precipice”. Suicide seems like the only way to end his “woes”. However, his irrational behaviour only lasts until the cliff edge as his fears force him to think more rationally.
Upon reflection of life he realises that he will find a new love “calmly returns to his cottage again”. Funeral Blues” is similar to “The Despairing Lover” in a sense as it addresses love and loss and the devastating effects it can have. However, Auden’s loss is expressed in the bitterest terms. Auden’s loss is permanent and so his conclusion is “nothing now can ever come to any good”. “The Despairing Lover” is divided into three sections. Each section is a different step in Damon’s emotional journey. The opening stanza focuses on Damon’s rejection by “Phyllis the fair”, the language is elaborate and melodramatic, and his “anguish” and “unrequited love” is a reflection of Damon’s state of mind.
This despair appears to be sincere until Damon reaches the cliff edge. The second stanza focuses on Damon’s thinking which becomes more rational as his actions change and Damon stands to put his life into perspective and sadly reflects upon life’s torments. The third and final stanza, revels a philosophical side of Damon, as Damon believes that he can find a new love and he would rather live than die over one person. “Funeral Blues” consists of four quatrains that take us on an emotional journey with Auden.
The poet begins with a dramatic and startling line, Auden is so shaken by the death of his loved one that he cannot face normality and the outside world as he wants all communication with the outside world stopped. This quatrain is a series of commands. The enormity of his loss is continued in the second quatrain. Auden feels that the loss is so great that it must be accompanied by singularly dramatic events like planes writing the sad news in the sky and the policemen wearing black gloves instead of white ones.
In the third quatrain the poet declares his love in the series of images that suggests that the deceased person was Auden’s whole world. Auden makes this quatrain personal as he delivers all of his feelings about the deceased. The forth and final quatrain is like the first one as it is a series of commands where he talks about packing up the whole world and the moon and stars, like a cry of despair. Whilst both poems clearly express the nature of love and loss, the mood in each is significantly different.
Walsh’s “The Despairing Lover” is both contradictory in mood and tone. Although Walsh initially captures the heartfelt and seemingly tragic mood “The despairing Lover” is actually light hearted and comical in tone. There is also a touch of melodrama and insincerity in Damon’s character. The dramatic turnaround in Damon’s feelings ensures that the mood remains light. By contrast Auden’s, “Funeral Blues” is both sombre and morbid, a feature that is consistent throughout the poem. The sincerity of Auden’s emotion gives “Funeral Blues” a melancholy feel.
Auden’s choice of language underlines the importance of his loss and his experiences. It is as it if there is no relief from his suffering like when it says “nothing now can ever come to any good”. The rhyme scheme for “The Despairing Lover” has a significant and symbolic impact upon the poem. The opening “AABB” rhyme reinforces the comical intent that is highlighted within this poem, for example, the pairing of “move her” and “lover” seems somewhat forced. The use of obvious end rhymes gives the poem a sense of predictability, adding to its simplicity.
The end rhyme contributes to the poem’s comical nature and makes it difficult to take this poem seriously. The language used for the poem is for humour not tragedy. The lack or structure as the poem progresses mirror’s that of Damon’s confused state of mind. The rhyme scheme within “Funeral Blues” is subtle and does not distract as from the sombre nature of Auden’s feelings. The amphibrach rhythm within “The Despairing Lover” is a deliberate devise that consistently expresses Walsh’s humorous intentions.
Its simple song like quality serves to poke fun at “young love” and its fickle nature. In comparison, Auden employs a much more unobtrusive rhythm which ensures that the ardent intensity of the poem is not shattered and once again emphasises Auden’s deep distress. There is a regularity and consistency in Auden’s rhyme scheme and rhythm, which reflects his unswerving insistence that “nothing now can ever come to any good”. Both poems clearly address the theme of love and loss and express the consequent pain and suffering that can be experienced.
However, both poems differ significantly in tone and sincerity. Walsh pokes fun at Damon because he is entertained by fickle love of a young naive man. Walsh views young love as being impermanent, Damon ultimately concludes that “a lover forsaken, a new love may get”. However, Auden speaks of a destructive grief as he becomes distraught and wants to sever his connection to the rest of the world and wants everyone to experience his loss and pain, then finally wants the entire world to just close up so nothing is left as if it was the end of the world.
Both Walsh and Auden begin with the idea that loosing a love is the end of life. Both clearly express the torture and torment of their situation and its resulting despair. Both publicly state their grief through dramatic gestures, Auden says “aeroplanes circling overhead” and Walsh’s Damon gives threats of suicide. However, there is a stark contrast in the overall message, whilst Walsh speaks of love being replaced; Auden talks of the permanence of his grief and the eternal nature of his loss.
As Auden tells the true actions of someone who has lost a loved one so his “nothing now can ever come to any good” is true in that another person can ever stop into his life and have the same effect as his first, I believed his idea of leaving the world as empty as he feels is right as his love was the centre of his centre of his universe. If you put both poems into real life situations that Auden’s poem is more realistic as this is what any other person that had just lost a loved would feel like.
Get access to
Guarantee No Hidden