A Comparative Study of Three Pre-1914 Love Poems

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Jesse McDonald                                                                                12th November 2008

A Comparative Study of Three Pre-1914 Love Poems

Throughout history people have shared their deepest feelings and thoughts through the medium of poetry. The form and genre this poetry takes can vary dramatically. One poet’s interpretation of a given theme can be very different from another’s and as can the poet’s means of expressing his viewpoint through the use of language, structure and other literary techniques. One of the most common themes in poetry is love. In the following comparative study I will be analysing three Pre-1914 love poems and comparing the literary techniques used and the context to which the poems were written.

Even before you begin to read “First Love” by John Clare you are immediately drawn into the writer’s world by the poem’s evocative title. “First Love” is a theme everyone can relate to; as everyone remembers their first love. By using such a simple and yet powerful title the reader feels empathy with the writer from the start and this empathy continues as you read through the beginning of the poem. This is achieved by the use of simple, yet romantic and emotive language to describe the writers love. An example of this would be: “Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower”. John Clare uses this simile to compare the beauty of his love to a flower; her face opening, revealing her beauty like a flower. This simile also conjures thoughts of spring, with flowers “blooming”. This simple and innocent comparison with nature allows the reader to empathise with John Clare and the feelings of first love which he has suddenly been overcome with. Another example of this innocence is “With love so sudden and so sweet”. This tells us of how this love has been triggered suddenly. It is “love at first sight”; a thought which reinforces the theme of romance in this scene.

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Another important element of “First Love” is its rhythm. Stress is placed upon the most important words and the rhythm reflects the heart beat of the writer, changing depending on the scene. An example is: “And then my blood rushed to my face”. This shows how emphasis is placed on the word “rushed” and how “And then” is used to depict speed as the heart begins to beat faster. By placing stress on important words and using a rhythm which reflects a beating heart the reader can understand John Clare’s feelings more clearly.

Unlike “First Love”, the title of William ...

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