How does poet’s writing before 1900 use language to write about different types of love? Consider three love poems, two of which must be by the same poet.
In this piece of coursework I am going to study three love poems. The first one is called “First Love” by John Clare; this poem is a very simple, sweet poem about a mans first love of his life. The second is called “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning; this poem is about the Duke telling his servant about his last wife, this poem is a poem about obsessive love. The third poem is called “Porphyria’s Lover” also by Robert Browning; this poem is about a man being suspicious enough to murder his love with her hair. This poem is a psychotic poem. Throughout this coursework I will be investigating the poem’s vocabulary, structure and imagery.
Firstly, I am going to explore the poems vocabulary. The vocabulary in “First Love” by John Clare is very simplistic and sweet, much like what you would find in a valentines card. The nouns found in this poem, like ‘flower’ is just one example of the simplicity that this poem has in it. Even simple adjectives have been included in this poem; there are more words to describe other than “pale”, more complex words could have been used. Clare could have used words like bloodless or cadaverous which are more complex but mean the same as pale.
Although the vocabulary in “First Love” is very simple the vocabulary in “My Last Duchess” is a lot more obsessive. In the poem Clare put forward that no one else has seen the portrait “strangers never read that painted countenance” plus he had a very negative view over the entire positive things about her personality too easily impressed this shows that the Duke is a jealous man and was angry enough to kill her.
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Whereas the vocabulary in “My Last Duchess” is very obsessive, vocabulary in “Porphyria’s Lover” is possessive and also Porphyria’s lover is very suspicious of Porphyria. “Lake whipped up by the wind”, “Cold room”, and “Sullen wind” are all examples/indications of the menacing love Porphyria’s lover has for Porphyria. Porphyria enters the room and looks like she has come in from a storm, which she has, but Porphyria’s lover makes it sound different. “Her cloak is dripping”. Porphyria’s lover once referred to Porphyria as “mine, mine”, this shows his obsession with Porphyria and shows that he only feels happy when Porphyria is all his.
When her own hair murders Porphyria, Porphyria’s lover says he has her love all to himself at last. He doesn’t feel guilty about what he had done “God has not said a word”.
Secondly, I am going to investigate the sentence structure of all three of the poems.
Looking at the sentence structure of “First Love”, the sentences are very short and simple, “I never saw, so sweet a face, as that I stood before” but there are aw few complex sentences within the poem “They spoke as chords do from the string and blood burnt round my heart”. Rhetorical questions are also asked because he wants to find out a lot more about love, as it is his first time in being in love. “Are flowers the winters choice? Is loves bed always snow?” are only a few examples of rhetorical questions that are in the poem.
Although the sentence structure in “First Love” shows it is simple and naïve, the sentence structure in “My Last Duchess” shows the obsessive and jealous love given. The dramatic sentences such as “I gave commands” shows the Dukes powerful love.
The Duke asks rhetorical questions towards the servant and as the servant has less authority than the Duke, he is not meant to answer the questions. These rhetorical questions show the Duke’s irritation about the Duchess. The Duchess is making the Duke have additional thoughts; the thoughts are brought on by the Duke’s unhappiness about the Duchess’ so called bad behaviour.
Whereas the sentence structure in “My Last Duchess” shows the obsessive. Powerful and jealous love, “Porphyria’s Lover’s” sentence structure shows a psychopathic and menacing love. The exclamations show the psychopathic love he feels towards Porphyria.
To show how he watched Porphyria’s every move he uses lists. To convince him that murdering Porphyria has not actually hurt her in anyway, “No pain felt she”. He uses less simple and dramatic sentences.
Finally, I am going to investigate the imagery used in all three of the poems.
“First Love”, the imagery used in this poem suggests that a first love is like someone taking away your heart, stealing it. “Her face…stole my heart away”. The imagery is simple and clear; he compares his love to a “sweet flower”. He uses a simple simile to show how confused he is about his situation in love “My life and all seemed turned to clay.”
In the dramatic monologue “My Last Duchess” there is not much imagery as the Duke is talking to his servant and when people talk they generally don’t use similes and metaphors to express how they are feeling in their speech.
In the poem “Porphyria’s Lover” the imagery used shows that Porphyria’s lover feels paranoid and psychopathic love towards Porphyria. Personification, metaphors, alliteration and similes are used in this poem. An example of personification being used in the poem is of the wind, it is described as “sullen” and doing its best to “vex the lake”. This imagery shows how the atmosphere develops as the characters in the poem are brought into the poem. An example of a metaphor is when Porphyria’s lover describes Porphyria’s hair as “one long yellow string”; this shows that Porphyria’s lover is making Porphyria’s beauty into a weapon so he can strangle Porphyria. “A shut bud that holds a bee” is a simile that shows that Porphyria’s eyes are showing that she is hiding something from Porphyria’s lover. This is why Porphyria’s lover suspects that Porphyria is deceiving him. Alliteration is also used. An example of this is “Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss” this alliteration is used to describe Porphyria’s red cheeks. This alliteration also shows Porphyria’s lover’s depth of passion towards Porphyria. There is more imagery in this dramatic monologue than in “My Last Duchess” as Porphyria’s lover is describing how his love leads to him killing Porphyria, instead of a Duke having a conversation with his servant about his late wife in speech.
Throughout this coursework I have investigated the poem’s vocabulary, structure and imagery. The vocabulary in “First Love” is very simplistic and sweet, whereas the vocabulary in “My Last Duchess” is a lot more obsessive and in “Porphyria’s lover” the vocabulary is possessive. The sentence structure in “First Love” is very short and simple but in “My Last Duchess” the structure shows the obsessive and jealous love given. Whereas in “Porphyria’s Lover” the sentence structure shows a psychopathic and menacing love. The imagery in “First Love” is saying simple and innocent love but in “Porphyria’s Lover the imagery is saying paranoid and psychopathic love. There is not much imagery to comment on in “My Last Duchess”.
I prefer “Porphyria’s Lover” to “First Love” and “My Last Duchess” because it is possessive and enjoyable because it has lots of use of imagery which makes it interesting to read though and investigate.