You should explore the attitude each poet takes to the relationship described in the poem, what each poet feels about the relationships future and how the writer in each case uses language to direct the readers response to the poem. Love is one of the most popular poetic themes. It is an intensely personal theme and can be approached in a great variety of ways. It is a theme affected by times. Many people believe that the true definition of love is found in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 quotes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ” Although many people believe this is the true definition of love it is not that relevant to me as I am dealing exclusively with romantic love in these poems. In three poems I have studied the theme of love has been approached in various ways with the poets taking different attitudes to the relationships described in each poem. The three poems are, The Thickness Of Ice by Liz Loxley, How Do I Love Thee? y Elizabeth Barrett Browning and First Love by John Clare.
The Thickness of Ice by Liz Loxley is a modern day poem on love between two people written between 1980 and 1990. It uses an extended metaphor to portray the feelings of the two people it is describing. The metaphor is ice-skating and how they are testing the thickness of the ice and wondering when it is going to break, “we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake. ” The poem describes how there is “ice” between the two people, eventually it breaks and then ice is formed again. The ‘ice’ is referring to the feelings and the atmosphere between the two people involved.
There is awkwardness and tense feelings between them at the start as the ‘ice’ has not been broken. Eventually the ‘ice’ is broken and they are comfortable being in each other’s company. Throughout the poem the two people experience different feelings. At the start there is lack of trust and they stay to the edges of the lake. Trust grows each time they meet, so that they are “less anxious to impress. ” As each meeting continues they become “less eager than the skater going for gold,” meaning, less eager to do it at the best of their ability.
The “triple jumps and spins… become old routine. The two of them ignore the danger and don’t see that the ice won’t hold their weight as they skate nearer to the centre of the lake. Eventually the “ice” breaks between them but they scramble to save themselves. The awkward feelings between them have been ‘broken. ‘ They only think of themselves and not each other. There is “hurt by missing out on a medal. ” They haven’t done well enough to deserve a medal. Throughout the poem the poet has used brackets. In the brackets it shows her secret hopes, tells us of her real feelings and tells us what is going to happen between them.
This poem is circular as it begins and ends with friends. It is of a slower pace compared to the other two poems. The poet takes a reflective mood/attitude on this theme and uses good language to portray it. Her implied message is that each person is ultimately alone and selfish. She expects to be emotionally damaged by the inevitable hurt and jealousy. In the end she is prepared to settle for friendship rather than true love. How Do I Love Thee? is an older poem compared to the Thickness Of Ice. It was written in the 1800’s by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
It is a formal poem as it was written in older times. The poet takes a positive look on the theme of love and there is a positive assertion of passion and enthusiasm. Her attitude is excited, exuberant, and extravagant towards the love described in the poem. At the beginning of the poem the style is conversational, the question is answered and there is a sense of situation which is upheld. There is lightness in this poem compared to the Thickness Of Ice because each is confident in the love of one another. It is a very sincere poem as it is about love and her love for him.
In the first part of the poem she speaks of their love as something elevated and important. A spiritual experience. In the second part of the poem she says how loving him is what she needs. She has passion and displays modesty towards him, “turn from praise. ” In the poem the poet uses the word ‘thee. ‘ This is an old fashioned word used in the Bible. This is a deliberate attempt to suggest intimacy as it is a spiritual experience. There is a spiritual level to this poem compared to The Thickness of Ice. The use of ‘thee’ and abstract nouns for example ‘praise’ portray this level.
It shows how the love between the poet and the other person isn’t dealing with everyday feelings. The poem ends with her saying, “And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. ” This means that if he dies she will still love him and if she dies, she will still love him in eternity. The poem, in total is very rhetorical. It is also repetitive which emphasises feeling and how intense the feelings are. There has also been use of alliteration, “purely… praise… passion” and hyperbole, ‘breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! ‘ The tone of the poem is confident and certain.
First Love is the oldest poem out of the three. It was written by John Clare. The poem is about how the poet fell in love with a woman but nothing ever happened between the two of them, due to the differences in class between them. It was a case of love at first sight. John Clare wasn’t well off and he was at the lower end of society. He fell in love with the daughter of a very wealthy family. The poem itself is simple with an even structure. In it, the poet deals with two aspects of love, love at first sight and unrequited love. The first stanza refers to this first love.
It is physical and dramatic, ‘sudden… struck… sweet. ‘ He describes the woman as a ‘sweet flower. ‘ These words convey the virtual state of shock he is in. There is a big impact on John Clare as he says, she ‘stole my heart away complete. ‘ He describes his physical effects due to the woman’s presence. ‘My face turned pale… my legs refused to walk away… my life and all seemed to turn to clay. ‘ This at first glance may convey John Clare as shallow as he falls in love by appearance, but he is simply deeply impacted by this initial encounter with the woman he loves.
The second aspect of love is unrequited love. This is where he loves her but she does not love him. He has a deep passion and infatuation with this woman and she doesn’t even know of his existence. This poem is a good description of falling in love. It describes in detail the physical and emotional effects of love on a person. John Clare’s experience of falling in love is strange as the woman he had a passion for didn’t even pay him the slightest bit of attention. This is how it is different from the other two poems as the other person wasn’t feeling the same feelings.
John Clare has been able to portray his feelings well by the words and language he has used in this poem. Looking at these three poems show how poets’ attitudes to the theme of love can vary. My reactions to each poem varied. The Thickness Of Ice reflects disillusionment, How do I Love Thee shows how love can be elevated above everyday feelings and First Love showed how someone is able to fall deeply and passionately in love at first sight. Out of the three poems I can’t decide on a favourite as they all deal with different equally valid aspects of love.