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Compare and contrast how two or more poets approach the theme of love.

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GCSE Literature Assignment - Pre- 1900 Poetry Compare and contrast how two or more poets approach the theme of love. I have chosen the poems;- "Ballad", "Porphyria's Lover" and "Shall I compare thee..?" to compare and contrast. "Ballad" was written during the time that most people were illiterate, leaving it to be passed on by mouth, which left it without an author. It describes a dishonest love, where someone feels betrayed by their lover. "Porphyria's Lover", written by Robert Browning, gives you a dramatic insight into the mind of a abnormally possessive lover, and "Shall I Compare thee..?", written famously by William Shakespeare, is about true love, and immortalises someone through the "eternal" lines of a sonnet. "Ballad" describes how a girl falls in love with a shepherd and is too na�ve to believe he doesn't love her back. Yet when she loses her virginity to him and gets pregnant, he leaves her and she is left feeling ashamed and remorseful. Between lines 1 to 5, it says: "He stole away my liberty: When my poor heart was strange to men, He came and smiled and stole it then", This has imagery of theft and shows that the shepherd stole her virginity by being kind to her. ...read more.


Once it is born, it will be treated differently due to its mother's mistake. This also gives us death and religious imagery, as Jesus was put upon the cross with a crown of thorns upon his head. There is also contrasts with the weather. When it mentions frost and snow, it tells us he left her, as this is when it was noticeable she was pregnant; "Me he sought through frost and snow. When it puckered up with shame, And i sought him, he never came.". Yet when it mentions summer, it describes him staying with her every night court her; "When summer brought no fears to fright, He came to guard me every night". The way it says "guard" is ironic, as he didn't protect her he just ruined her life. The poem is set out into 11 different verses. The poems rhyming structure is A,A,B,B,C,C.. which differs greatly to the Shakespearian Sonnet "Shall I compare thee..?", which has a rhyming scheme of A,B,A,B C,D,C,D E,F,E,F G,G. It is also set out differently with 3 quatrains and a couplet. All Shakespearian sonnets consist of 14 lines, each line contains 10 syllables, and each line is written in iambic pentameter in which a pattern of a non-emphasized syllable followed by an emphasized syllable, is repeated five times. ...read more.


He also believes this is what Porphyria wanted, showing us that he didn't intentionally mean harm. He just wanted to keep things the way they were; "Porphiria's love: She guessed now how, Her darling one wish would be heard, And thus we sit together now". The use of this line also makes it sound as if she's still alive, adding to how sinister the poem is. I believe "Ballad" and "Porphyria's Lover" are the most effective. They both mention abstract versions of love and the imagery in both can be quite horrific. However, I think the rhyming scheme in "Shall I compare thee..?" is effective compared to the rhyming scheme in "Ballad" and the A,B,B,A,B rhyming scheme in "Porphyria's Lover". I believe its more effective because the rhyming scheme makes it easier to process and remember. The attitudes to love have changed greatly since the pre - 1900's, especially compared to "Ballad". It is no longer looked down upon to be a single parent, and is rather common these days. Also the child wouldn't be socially outcast if they had a single mother or father. Porphiria's lover however, is still seen as abnormal. The poem was written, I believe, to shock people, and I believe it still would today. The same issues still apply to the murder of someone and it would seem even more absurd to murder someone you loved. ...read more.

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