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How do these three poems use the conventions and limitations of the sonnet form to explore the relationship each is discussing?

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Introduction

How do these three poems use the conventions and limitations of the sonnet form to explore the relationship each is discussing? 'If thou must love me, let it be for nought/Except for love's sake only'. What was 'love's sake,' and how was it to be expressed? Conventionally it was through the idealised and equally limiting form of the Petrarchan sonnet. Its tight knit structure of metre, rhyme and lineation however left the space for expression severely restricted. The relationships in the three sonnets stated, nethertheless use this structure, only to undermine it in particular ways, tying its 'blue thread' of convention into a complicated knot. This knot when unwound, shows how each of the sonnets confronts the limitations of the conventional sonnet form, using them either to tell their lover how they feel, or to explore an illicit affair, or even the breakdown of a marriage. Traditionally the sonnet is fourteen lines long, and in iambic pentameter. Barret-Browning uses this metrical convention to her advantage, ensuring that the alterations that she makes enhance her own voice. Refusing to 'fall in well' with the limiting sonnet tradition, she deducts from her fourth line a syllable, leaving only nine instead of the traditional ten. ...read more.

Middle

I am much more that, you can hear her shout, and will not allow herself to be trapped in some artificial, insincere 'trick of thought'. The punctuation, hence the dashes demonstrate how distance convention is from real love, in fact if she were described in such hyperbolic terms it would only amount to 'nought'. The lady of Meredith's poem however has neither the strength of the first nor the sweetness of the second. Whereas the idealised 'hour-glass' figure of the second lady can stretch her fingers quite freely in the grass, one can only imagine that Meredith's lady is covering her face with her equally stretched fingers. It is a sonnet that explores the torments of the heart, the tone evoking misery and isolation. With the woman enclosed in her bedroom, society's legacy for keeping in the feelings, the male is equally distance, interpreting her 'low sobs', that reverberate through the lengthened sonnet as 'strange'. A word that some how sums up the arrogance of the repeated masculine (stressed) line endings throughout the poem. It may be interesting to note the 'Modern Love' does not once, despite its ironic title (hence what love has evovled to) mention the word love. His diction is certainly not conventional to the traditional sonnet form. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also that her partner would be loving her for selfish reasons, his pity being all 'thine own'. Emotional tears are considered feigned, though in the third poem, the lady's 'giant heart of Memory and Tears' are completely honest, if they are ironically given a capital letter to indicate the poet's possible disdain for them. Her heart is big enough for both of them, and in some ways he only wants them to be 'mute'. Idealised love is not what any of these sonnets achieve. The poets only use the coventional method for expression love only to undermine it through an honest perspective. In the first there is the genuine voice of the conventional subject-matter - a woman, whilst the third gives an almost violent turn to the Petrarchan sonnet convention of frustrated love, a love that has ultimately turned sour. Only in the second does convention feature predominantly, particularly in the diction, though with its emphasis on silence, Silent Noon this love is yet to be one with God like the Petrarchan tradition professed This illicit affair turns the ideal into a sin. Through rhyme, metre, tone and diction all three poems use the limitations of the sonnet form to their advantage, by working within them they show where they fail, and ultimately push at the 'sonnet strait-jacket' so as to express honestly how love should be or how it is. ...read more.

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