I have been analysing several poems recently they are: When We Two Parted by Lord Byron, First Love by John Clare, Villegiature by Edith Nesbitt, Remember Christina Rossetti and How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barratt Bro

Authors Avatar

Matt Molyneux

How do the following 19th century poets deal with the theme of love?

I have been analysing several poems recently they are: ‘When We Two Parted’ by Lord Byron, ‘First Love’ by John Clare, ‘Villegiature’ by Edith Nesbitt, ‘Remember’ – Christina Rossetti and ‘How Do I Love Thee’ by Elizabeth Barratt Browning. In this essay I intend to go into detail about how these poets explore the theme of love and the different elements of this emotion. The poets write from both the female and male perspective and write about their own accounts of love. Whilst some write about the utter joy love brings, a number of others tell us of the dark depressing feelings at the end of a relationship.

The first poem I am going to write about is When We Two Parted, Lord Byron. Byron was infamous for his controversial relationships, once involving his own cousin. The poem is a personal account of grief resulting from the end of a secret, passionate relationship.

Byron uses images of sadness to demonstrate the heart-rending emotions.

‘In silence and tears,

Half broken-hearted’

These lines emphasise his feeling of grief. Why silence? It could be because it is a forbidden love and that is the reason why they have to cry in silence. The word "tears" clarify it was a painful loss. Also he uses the phrase ‘Half broken-hearted’ because his heart was broken but her heart wasn't.

The poet uses emotive language to communicate the feeling of loss.

‘To sever for years’

He uses the word ‘sever’ to highlight that this was not a passive separation but a reluctant one. Also it gives the impression that there isn’t a good chance of this relationship being rekindled.

The woman’s character is negative.

‘Colder thy kiss’

This is evidence that her feelings towards him grew cold and she loved him no more, breaking the poet’s heart and therefore the poet describes her in a negative way.

The promises she makes are broken

"Thy vows are all broken’

She was married, broken vows refer to broken promises. When you marry somebody you must be faithful, and she broke her promise having an affair. But he might also refer to the vows she made to himself: she promised him love but now she changed her mind and decided to abandon him and be faithful to her husband, which, of course, is the right thing to do for her, but breaks the man’s heart.

She is lucky to be able to return to her husband.

‘And light is thy fame’

 This indicates she is lucky because her husband does not know and now she can continue with her marriage as if nothing had happened, whereas Byron, the poet, is left with nothing. It is also written in a formal archaic prayer like fashion which might mean Byron is comparing love to religion.

The poet is shameful about what happened.

‘I hear thy name spoken,

 And share in its shame.’

His tone is shameful; he feels the pain of their sin when he hears her name. Every time he hears her name, he remembers they had an illicit relationship and feels shameful about it.

When people speak of the woman the lover finds this traumatising.

‘They name thee before me,

 A knell to mine ear;’

Her name feels like a knell, a slow sad bell at a funeral. Again, Byron speaks of this woman as if she was dead, because that's how he feels about their relationship.

The man is regretful of meeting the woman.

‘Long, long shall I rue thee

Join now!

Too deeply to tell.’

This canto signifies that he is regretful for having met her, and too sad to express it. His feeling of regret is so intense that he can't express it with words (too deeply to tell)

Lord Byron becomes reminiscent about his and her short intense meetings, but looks back in sadness as she forgot these all too soon.

‘In secret we met

In silence I grieve

That thy heart could forget,

Thy spirit deceive.’

He remembers their hidden love encounters and he feels depressed because her heart forgot their short but ...

This is a preview of the whole essay