Compare the different ways in which love and loss are presented
The poem “How I Love thee?”, written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning breaks the stereotypical view of women in this famous poem. Which explores a woman who shares her passion for her lover, which is deflected from straight Religious belief to love this man. The poem is a very unique question and we can understand as readers that this poem has a wonderful positive rhythm, which underpins the personal, and heart felt emotion despite the logical almost detached exact way of how she describes her love by account. Immediately, we are alerted by the probing title, which Browning cleverly uses to illustrate the ways in what she loves about this man and also this is repeated in the first line.
In this we realise that the poem is literally a list of positive things, which is presented in the traditional form of classic love poetry, the Shakespearean sonnet. This consists of an octave (eight lines) and six lines. In the octave, she explores her love life as an adult, her love life now and in the 2nd part, the six lines she refers back to her childhood and shares her opinions on love as a child, which shows how her opinions differ from then and now and show the changes in her idea of love. Also, the regular rhyme scheme explains the solidity of this love and echoes the natural speech pattern. Therefore from this very personal approach to the poem, we as readers may think that it is based on a real experience in the Philosophical area.
“In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints- I love thee with the breath”
Here, she must have loved before, if now she loves with a passion she thought she had lost. Also, the fact that Browning writes that she loves with all her life and plans to love even more after she dies is a huge statement in support of her undying love. Browning’s creative style is a necessity and definitely adds to the creation of her strong purpose of love in the last six lines. Also, the use of “Childhood’s faith” and “Lost saints” seems like the idea of religion is abandoned of love for this man.
She adores her partner and expresses her passion and makes it seem her love goes beyond all the distances, i.e. beyond depth. The religious vocabulary also is there to underpin how pure her love is. Some words used in the poem-
“Strive for right”
These images all help to emphasise her love more, making her feelings sound pure, unconditional, true and intense. Browning uses more religious images because she knows that it is far more effective than physical dimensions although both help emphasise her love which combines physical, emotional and spiritual but by using more religiousness this makes it purer than to actually how much she loves him.
These two words have association of eternity or infinity and “Grace” is also part of the religious vocabulary text. Also, in one line the poet uses three words to emphasise her true feelings-
“I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life”
The use of “breath”, “smiles” and “tears” all express emotion, and by using three nouns this helps to encapsulate the fundamental experiences which encompasses all moods of life.
The second poem “When We Two Parted”, by George Gordon is a poem about betrayal and unfaithfulness by his lover who promised to wait for him. The poet was known to be a womaniser; he had no such respect for woman and never had deep love for any woman except this one. He had loved her deeply and was given a real taste of his own medicine. This is why this separation is so very much painful for the poet; he had never felt like this ever before. ‘Why wert thou so dear?’ This poem is depressing and heart-breaking. This is in contrast to the first poem “How do I Love Thee?” which is about happiness and strong bonded love.
The love for this woman from poet was truly great and scarred in his heart. He had really tasted true love for once. “Long, long shall I rue thee, too deeply to tell.” This was further evidence of how much the poet loved this woman, he uses the word “long” twice, this emphasises that he is hurting heavily.
He shares her shame when the poet says, “I hear thy name spoken, and share in its shame.” They promised faith for one another and unfortunately that was broken. The poet is distressed that his lover broke the promise, “That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive.”
The third and last poem is, “My last duchess” by Robert Browning. It is a dramatic, cold, distant and detached monologue, which is a personal declaration of love yet it is a dark distorted love. The poem is based on a Duke and how he loved his wife, he re-counts and recollects in the form of dramatic monologue. The rigid rhyming couplets reflect the un-bending and strictness of the Duke’s attitudes and emphasise his lack of tolerance and understanding. For example, in the beginning-
“That piece a wonder”
The pompous Duke would be referring to this woman as a work of art. In this poem, women are portrayed as possessions. We find out that he cannot control his wife looking at other men as he could not stand the fact that she even smiled with people as his status and wealth is important to him and in back then, the Victorian idea that males were naturally superior to females is reflected in the Duke’s pride. He is angry not just because of the Duchess’ supposed, “flirting” but also his ancient roots.
“A man gave his wife a name”
This implies that a woman should be grateful for his name, as a man giving her the family name is evident here.
This poem is written in a male perspective therefore we would expect there to be a different approach to love, we would expect the man to be more dominant and boastful of situations where he thought he impressed his lover. In this poem, the stereotypical view of men in a relationship is clearly explored as he mentions the female body parts-
“My favour at her breast”
After a while the Duke lost his patience, with his Duchess continuing, “flirting” with anyone. The Duke became obsessed and could not handle it anymore. So the Duke decided to kill the Duchess. The Duke is obviously a very jealous individual, full of arrogance and greed. After the Duchess’s death he wants to marry a counts daughter.
“How do I Love thee?” is a poem of extreme unity and love for one another. The poet has a tremendous amount of dedication to her lover and their relationship is built on trust. They even go as far as talking about life after death and how they will become re-united in God’s hands.
“When we two departed” is a poem of absolute disloyalty. The poet did get what he deserved but this was his true first love. This “relationship” is broken by the poets lover after she betrays him. This poem is all about deceit and betrayal.
The last poem “My last duchess”, is a poem of jealousy and resentment. It’s about a Duchess who is very loyal to her husband. Her life ends because of envy. It is really saddening, as she had not committed any crime to deserve this brutal punishment.
Get access to
Guarantee No Hidden