A love poem must have many different qualities to it. The poem will always have a theme that is something about love, the celebration of love, a first love or the hardships of love. The poet is generally describing his feelings so the tone of the poem will relate to the poets emotions at the time so it could be sweet and joyful or bitter and resentful. Some poems are written to persuade and express the poet’s feelings in a more romantic way. Imagery is very important in love poetry as it allows the reader to picture what the poet was thinking or feeling when he wrote it.
This can be achieved by describing the atmosphere, hearts, roses and by describing how a person looks. Language can also help the reader imagine the poet’s thoughts. Similes, metaphors and alliteration can bring to life an object or person and assonance can be used to show the poets emotions. The purpose of a love poem is so the poet can express themselves emotionally to express love, to share love or to remember a past love. A poem can be expressed in a number of forms, it could be sang, serenaded or just written down as a sonnet or rhyme.
In the history of love poetry there are many great poets such as John Keats, Robert Browning and William Shakespeare. Many different modern love poets often reflects on their writing, especially Shakespeare, as it is wide read. Each of the four poems, “Shall I compare thee? “, “My Last Duchess”, “To His Coy Mistress” and “Porphryia’s Lover” has a very different portrayal of love. In Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee? ” the speaker compares the girl to an ‘eternal sommer’ which is very flattering but in “Porphryia’s Lover” the speaker is telling how he murdered his mistress for the sake of their love.
They all describe a loved person in various ways and in each poem the speaker has preserved them forever in a different way. “Shall I compare thee? ” is a traditional love poem written by Shakespeare. The poem is also known as Sonnet XVIII and is just one of the one hundred and fifty sonnets known to have been written by Shakespeare. “Shall I compare thee? ” has a similar theme to many of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which include ideas about the cruelty of time and how his words can defeat time by lasting far longer then the person who inspired him.
The speaker of the poem is describing his loved one and he says that she is ‘more lovely and more temperate’ then a summers day suggesting that she is more lovely then any of natures beauty. His love is eternal because death will never take her away from him. He says ‘So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. ‘ Meaning that his love will be preserved forever in the poem and her memory will never be forgotten. The poem is in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet so it has three rhyming quatrains and a rhyming couplet at the end. Shakespeare was a great love poet and a sonnet is the poetry of love.
It has a very confident rhyme scheme that makes the poem flow easily making it straightforward to recite. Summer is used in comparison the speaker’s lover throughout the poem. The first line is ‘Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? ‘ He then goes on to describe why she is so much better then a summer’s day. He says ‘Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines’ meaning that in summer it can get too hot or ‘often his gold complexion dim’d’ it can go away entirely but that his lover’s ‘eternal summer shall not fade’ her brilliance will never go away.
Shakespeare uses personification and metaphors to describe what he is feeling and to bring the sun to life as a person. The speaker is using the poem to preserve his love forever on the paper as he says in the last rhyming couplet ‘So long as men can breath or eyes can see, / So long lives this and this gives life to thee. ‘ Showing the reader that as long as people read his poem they will remember his love and her memory will never die. The speaker is ardently in love with his lover because he wishes to preserve her for eternity. “To His Coy Mistress” was written by Andrew Marvell and is his most popular poem today.
Marvell wrote poems, dialogues, public commendations and satires. He wrote for fun, not for profit and most of his poetry remained in unpublished form until after his death in 1678. In this poem the speaker attempts, through argument, to win over his coy Lady. It is rather more then just a seduction poem. The purpose of the poem is so that the speaker can seduce his mistress to take their relationship to the next level. He uses crude and unkind phrases and images to persuade her. It isn’t a traditional type of love poem but a more raw seduction poem.
The speaker uses hyperbole, metaphors and alliteration to mock the romance of love. He says ‘And you should, if you please, refuse/ Till the conversation of the Jews. ‘ He is being ironic, making fun of his mistress over her chased behaviour. He uses hyperbole to exaggerate, he says ‘An hundred years should go to praise/ Thine eyes’ he is trying to flatter her, it is persuasive because the eyes are often considered the key to true love. However the speaker then goes on to mock love and uses a more saudid line ‘Two hundred to adore each breast.
In order for the speaker to persuade his Mistress to forward their relationship Marvell uses a double entendre in the first stanza, ‘My vegetable love should grow’. To his Mistress this could mean that he will be a great lover but the reader could interpret it in a more amusing context. By the second stanza the speaker is getting more desperate to be intimate with his Mistress. He uses violent, horrific images to try and be persuasive. He emphasizes how ‘Time’s winged chariot hurrying near’ and that their relationship should take the next step before it is too late and she dies.
He uses horrific images for example ‘then worms shall try/That long preserved virginity,’ this gives the reader an unpleasant and crude image which would seem to his Mistress offensive and probably distasteful. To further emphasize his point the poet uses plosives in alliteration, the speaker says ‘The graves a fine and private place’ making him seem angry. Marvell’s final approach in the third stanza is flattery again although some of the crude, unpleasantness from the second stanza is still left in. He starts the stanza with a complimentary simile, ‘While the youthful hue/ Sits on thy skin like morning dew.
Marvell then uses sibilance, this softer alliteration would also soften his Mistress. He says ‘And while thy willing soul transpires / At every pore with instant fires. ‘ The poet uses then uses a metaphor to try and reveal a gentler side to him, ‘Let us role all our strength and all/ Our sweetness up into one ball. ‘ This seems calm and sweet and he uses it to get to his Mistress’s heart. But he ruins his sweet moment with another violent simile, ‘like amorous birds of prey’. By using more violent lines amongst soft flattery in the last stanza the speaker is likely to win over his Mistress.
In “To His Coy Mistress” Marvell treats women like objects and does not seem to have a very high opinion of them. He grows very impatient with his Mistress and especially in the last stanza he repeats the word ‘now’ quite often. He says ‘Now therefore’ ‘Now let us’ and ‘And now. ‘ Although the speaker in the poem treats both love and women with a casual attitude he knows that with the art of flattery he will end up getting his own way. “Porphyria’s Lover” is written by Robert Browning and is in the form of a dramatic monologue.
Dramatic monologues were used by Victorian poets to express the most cruel and heterodox opinions, although at the same time making it clear that they themselves did not hold the same views. It was a way of lying while seeming to tell the truth. In this poem the poet tries to present the vision of love as desire or longing, Porphyria’s lover wishes for them to always be together yet because she is married it cannot always be so. The reader will learn this when the speaker says ‘But passion sometimes would prevail,’ meaning that they could not always be together.