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How is love presented in Victorian Love Poetry

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Ben Benmore How Is Love Presented In Victorian Love Poetry Victorian poems show love to be very strong and overpowering. This is expressed in many different ways, they include negative imagery and, on the other hand, positive imagery. In Victorian times, there was a much suppressed attitude. This was because Queen Victoria was in mourning from the death of her husband, Albert, due to typhoid. The country became very solemn from this so people started to express their feelings through poetry. The country had strong morals on issues such as family values, polite manners and religion. The characteristics of Victorian values included thrift, hard work and morals, with a love of home and its comforts. Romance and realism, sentiment and common sense were a Victorians view of the family. The studied poems are "First Love" by John Clare, "How Do I Love Thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti, "A Woman to her Lover" by Christina Walsh and "When We Two Parted" by Lord Byron. John Clare describes his first ever experience of romantic love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning describes all the different ways in which she loves someone, Christina Rossetti describes romantic love, Christina Walsh describes how love has made her miserable and what her lover can do to make it better and, unlike Christina Rossetti, Lord Byron describes love very negatively. Different events in the poet's lives might have influenced the way in which they write about love. In John Clare's early adult years, whilst working as a pot-boy in a public house, he fell in love with a local farmer's daughter, Mary Joyce. Her father forbade her from ever meeting him and this could have influenced the way he wrote about love as he describes these first feelings in "First Love". ...read more.


In "First Love", John Clare uses words that show that love can cause pain as well as pleasure. "Struck...blood...burnt" Clare has used these painful words to describe his feelings from love to show that the assumption that love is all pleasure is proved wrong and is shown that there can be pain. The poet suggests that love has taken over his life and left him completely helpless. He does this by using metaphors to suggest that his bodily functions have been affected. "My legs refused to walk away...my life and all seemed turned to clay...took my sight away...I could not see a single thing..." He shows that he is fixated and cannot do anything stop it. John Clare used traditional imagery of love poetry in the poem. This is where he writes, "her face it bloomed like a sweet flower." This shows that he is using a simile to compare the lady to something very sweet and beautiful, therefore creating a very powerful image in your mind. There is a contrast between his feelings and the lady he loves, she does not reciprocate his feelings for her and he is left disappointed. "She seemed to hear my silent voice, and loves appeal to know." This explains that she knows what he is feeling yet does not return the love to him. The questions in the final stanza, "Are flowers the winter's choice? Is love's bed always snow," shows that he is in a heart-broken state of mind. "I ne'er was struck...with love so sudden and so sweet..." are an example of sibilance in the poem, the effect this has is that it emphasises the words "struck" and "sudden" to make the most impact and show that he was struck by love and that the experience was so sudden. ...read more.


The short lines in "When We Two Parted" are to add to the effect of the cold, bitter mood. He achieves cohesion in the poem by returning to the opening stanza in the final lines of the last thus creating a join to make it a united whole. Love is presented differently in each of the poems by the poets. In "First Love" love has been presented through the physical and emotional effects by John Clare. In "How Do I Love Thee", Elizabeth Barrett Browning presents love by trying to express the depth; she has changed abstract nouns into proper nouns to prove their importance. Christina Rossetti presents love by sharing the positive and uplifting sensations of love and celebrating the joy it brings; she uses imagery of nature and summer as well as a comparison to one of the happiest times of life, a birthday. In "A Woman to Her Lover", Walsh presents love through the conditions she expects the man to agree with if he was to become her husband. And finally, Lord Byron presents love in this poem as something he has lost. His shame and his grief are also very strong in description. Of all the poems, my favourite is "A Birthday" by Christina Rossetti. This is because it is a celebration of love rather than the after effects of a broken heart. It also has a light, cheery attitude whereas the other poems are slightly disheartening. Overall the poems are about love and loss. The innermost feelings and emotions of love between two people are discovered and expressed in detail. Both negative and positive emotions are explored and the effects it has on both people are portrayed. ...read more.

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