Themes of Love and Loss in Poetry
In this essay, we are going to analyse five poems to study the way
love and loss are treated in the pre-nineteenth century poems, "So,
we'll go no more a roving" and "When we two parted" by Lord Byron,
"Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare, "How do I love thee?" by
Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and "Remember" by Christina Rossetti. After
looking at the level of implication of each of the poets in their
writing, we will show the way they treat the themes of love and loss.
Written by William Shakespeare in the 16th century, "Sonnet 116" is
the most ancient poem in this collection. It has fourteen lines and is
structured into three quatrains and an ending couplet. The rhyme
pattern is ABAB. The main differences with the other poetry is that
Shakespeare doesn't get involved personally in his writing until the
very last lines. He only speaks of love, not loss. There aren't any
marks of his presence, he keeps the tone impersonal and neutral, thus
his poem has a general outreach.
He describes, explains what love really is and, mostly, what it isn't.
He isn't indulgent with people who blame time or "impediments" on the
vanishment of their love. In his opinion, love does not alter "when it
alteration finds" and is not "Time's fool". The metaphor "it is the
star to every wandering bark" depicts love as the guide to every soul
who cannot appreciate the importance of it although it can see "his
height". The second quatrain contains an extended allegory of Love; it
is said to be "an ever-fixed mark", "a star", personnified by the verb
"looks". The third quatrain personnifies Time because love does not
bend under "his...sickel's compass" even if the "rosy lips and cheeks"
do. The constant repetition of "love" and "alter" emphasize the
importance of the message. In the last couplet however, Shakespeare
ceases his "lesson" and is willing to deny all his written work if his
error on the subject was proved.
This fact makes this piece of work an argumentative poem, marking a
strong difference between the other four of this collection which have
an important romantic tone.
"How do I love Thee" by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning is another poem
which only speaks of love and doesn't mention loss. It is an iambic
pentameter poem, it has fourteen lines like Shakespeare's sonnet. It
is an almost lyric poem as it contains much emotion, sparks the
reader's imagination and has a melody like that of an epigram. It is
an Italian sonnet, shown by its rhymic pattern ABBA ABBA CDC DCD and
has a masculine rhyme to create a theme of love and a romantic
Contrasting with "Sonnet 116", this poem is very personal, the poet is
talking in the first person "I", "my" and is adressing her lover by
"thee". She enumerates the ways in which she loves him, creating many