19th Century Poetry Essay Sample
- Word count: 2663
- Category: assignment
Get Full Essay
Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.Get Access
19th Century Poetry Essay Sample
19th century poetry is quite different from that of today, particularly love poems. This is due to the fact that women and men were portrayed very differently in the 1800’s. The men would be expected to go out and work all day and then come home to his wife and basically be waited on by her. The women’s role in the house was to do exactly as her husband wished along with any other necessary chores, which may have included looking after children as well, men were seen as totally superior to the ‘inferior’ women of that period.
I have already found an initial connection amongst my poems and which I shall also be basing my writing on. This is the cycle of love and it’s stages, from the birth of love to when two lovers part. The first stage in the cycle is when you first fall in love. The poem representing this is, of course, ‘first Love’. Explaining the initial feeling when this man becomes infatuated with a woman he has not even spoken too. My former impression of this poem is that two people are about to meet for the first time and fall deeply in love, but this was just from reading the title, as I was extremely wrong!
The actual theme of this poem is about how love can be one sided, and very very painful. You gather this impression from every verse. The first line starts with “I ne’er was struck before that hour”. You already get the sense of pain from what he is saying. This means he is hit by emotion, implying a violent and sudden act. This continues with the claim that his heart was stolen. He therefore had no choice in falling in love. This idea is developed by the fact that his “legs refused to walk away. ” Not only does he have no choice, he has no control.
This verse finishes with “My life and all seemed turned to clay: giving the impression that she can mould him and do what ever she please. The second verse continues describing his painful experience with “And then my blood rushed to my face”. Although this is a sign he is blushing, the words used makes it sound awful. It then goes on to relate love with music, (which is often done on love poetry), as he “could not see a single thing, words from my eyes did start: they spoke as chords do from strings”.
This tells me that he is only going by what he sees and hr doesn’t even know what her personality is like but the words describing her as beautiful like chords from the string! At this point I thought the poem would become less painful but the last line claims how “blood burnt round my heart”, sounding like excruciating heartache.
In the third verse the narrator finally comes to terms that this woman he has given his heart to has rejected him, “Are flowers the winters choice? this line relates back to the first verse where “Her face bloomes like a sweet flower”, but now this flower seems cold, showing how his love has not been returned and she has not noticed him. “She seemed to hear my silent voice”, she has acknowledged how he is looking at her but just returned a look in disgust! I get the impression the narrator is just a young teenager as he says how “My heart has left it’s dwelling place, and can return no more”, saying how he can never fall in love ever again.
I find this quite funny, as he probably isn’t even in love considering he has never even spoken too this “sweet flower”, he is just infatuated with her looks and he will fall in love again, probably very soon! This is where I get the impression that he is only a teenager. The structure of the poem has an ‘Ababcdcd’ formation and has an iambic rhythm. The rhythm is also regular until the first line of the third verse, which has been done to purposely draw attention to it and make you think about it.
There are eight lines in each three verses and there is a rhyme scheme throughout. I like the way John Clare structures his words as well, for example, “And stole my heart away complete” when he could of just said “Completely stole my heart”, but the way John Clare does it adds much greater effect. Moving on to the second stage of love, where you are still in love but have gotten to the point where you want to lay down the terms of how you want to be treated and respected in a relationship. The poem representing this stage would have to be ‘A woman to her lover’
This poem, written by Christina Walsh, explains, verse by verse, how the woman wants her lover to think of her. The poem begins with “Do you come to me to bend me to your will”, gathering the first verse is about her being treated as a slave. (This relates back to ‘First love’ where both poems have a lack of choice in the matter). This also relates to how woman really were portrayed in this time, he probably did just think of her as inferior, and as she says, “a bond slave” and “just to bear your children, wearing out my life”.
She proclaims how she will refuse this if this is the case. he then goes on to the second verse, explaining another way men may of seen women in that century, “Or If you think to wed with one from heaven sent”, this is where she is saying she doesn’t want to be put on a pedestals and worshipped as “a wingless angel”. Men did think of women like this, as delicate, gentle and fragile beings. Although most women at this time, (and now) may liked to be worshiped as written but Christina Walsh also refuses to be treated like this. In the third verse she explains how she doesn’t want to be used for pleasure. “Than gratify your clamorous desire”, and she is not going to just be used for sex.
And how he shouldn’t think that she is someone who will only be happy with him. But, in the forth verse, the first line is started completely different front the others, where she would normally start with a question, she starts with “But lover, if you ask of me”, letting you know this verse is going to be less demanding, she then goes on to refer them as equals using words such as “together” and “we” instead of just “you” and generally more positive tones. She goes on to say that if he respects her as an equal, she will want to be with him forever, she even calls him her “husband”.
In line eight, she makes a connection of music and love, as done in the poem ‘First Love’ and says “And we shall have the music of the spheres for the bridal march” and how they will go “hand holding hand until we reach the very heart of God”, brining in peoples religious beliefs in this time and that this type of love is the kind that is approved by God. The general structure of the poem is one building up an argument during the first three verses with the repetition of “fool I refuse you” with a negative, demanding, assertive tone.
I appreciate Christina Walsh because this poem goes far against the opinions of people, mostly men at this period of time, the idea of men and women being equals was not even thought of and this is saying how she wants her relationship to be. The third poem I’m analysing is ‘Vilegature’. Vilegature is Italian and it means ‘a home in Italy’, this poem is written by Edith Nesbit and is based on a lover that has gone away, at this point in time – referring to the cycle of love – their love is starting to fade.
This poem has a lot of references to nature, which, like music, is another thing often related to love as it is supposed to be beautiful and innocent. The fist line demonstrates its use of nature, “My Window, framed in pear-tree bloom” followed by “White-curtained shone, softly and lighted”, giving off a soft and romantic dream like scene. The forth line, ” Your ghost last night climbed uninvited”, which made me decided weather I thought that there actually was a ghost or it was her just having a dream as there was already a dream like scene set.
Also, the line gives the impression that the ghost was not wanted. I thought it was her having a vision because in the second verse she then goes on to write “Your solid self long leagues away”, showing her lover is not dead but far away “Deep in dull books but hardly missed”, I get the impression that he is possibly away studying in University but she didn’t miss the fact that he was gone, showing what I said about the cycle of love and how the love was fading.
In the third line, Edith relates to a very famous lover, “And yet you found this Romeo’s way”, Romeo was, like I said, was a very famous lover from the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ so she is probably saying that this ghost is wooing her. The third verse brings you on to dawn as it says “I watched the still and dewy lawn” and the third line is “I listened to you till the dawn” which gives the impression that maybe she did want him to be there until she says on the last line “And half forgot I did not love you”, where she is saying, she never really loved this man but the dream was nice!
In the final verse Edith carries on to say “What pretty things you said” and once again relating music and love with “What pearls of song you threaded for me! ” I got the idea that possibly she did still love him by the way she chose her words to describe what he was doing until the last two line which I found rather comical, which was “I did not – till your ghost had fled – Remember how you always bore me! ” I think the tone of this poem is very soft and romantic although the narrator was not in love and it rhymes throughout.
The forth poem in the cycle of love is called “A Complaint” by William Wordsworth showing when love has gone stale and is taken for granted, the poem start “there is change-And I am poor”, showing things have started to change between them in their relationship and he has nothing. There is a lot of relation to water in this poem; this is first shown in the third line of the poem, “A fountain at my fond heart’s door, Whose only business was to flow”. I think the relation to water is that water is related to nature and also, you could say water was like someone’s love, sometimes flowing fast and at other times slow or even hardly at all.
The image of a fountain makes me think of beautiful, full, flowing love, which is how the narrator is describing how his lover would be loving him. In the second verse, he then goes on to claim about “What happy moment did I count” and how his love was a “consecrated fount”, which relates to religion, showing their love is pure and true but then follows on with some thing he is not to sure whether he should tell (“What have I? Shall I dare to tell? “), and he explains how his “fountain” of love from his lover is now “A comfortless and hidden well.
The difference between a fountain and a well is quite great, I see a fountain and think of magnificent and beautiful things but when I think of a well, I think of rotting, damp water, which is definatley not the type of love any body would want. He is saying the love is still there, but it’s as if his lover is not making any effort, it’s just hidden away and love is being mistaken for laziness. In the third verse he admits that “A well of love-it may be deep” and he knows in line two that it will “never dry” yet he still complains.
He ends the poem by saying “What matter? which is him questioning whether he should or should not be complaining, “Such change, and at the very door, Of my fond heart hath made me poor. ” When considering whether he should or should not be complaining I considered the fact that it was probably then woman in the relationship who was giving all the love and not getting it in return so gave up. I think this because at this period in time women were inferior to men so were expected to love their husband and it was not frowned at if men did not return this love which I disagree with, therefore I don’t think he has the right to be complaining.
The tone of this poem is quite slow and does not change and rhymes throughout. My fifth and final poem is ‘Song’, by Christina Rosetti. This poem is showing the final stage in the cycle of love, when two lovers part, and in this case, when two lovers part due to death. I found this poem rather saddening because it is about how Christina Rosetti would like her lover to remember her, or in this case possibly not remember her when she has passed away, I imagine the narrator would be saying this to her lover possibly on her death bed. The poem starts in a depressing way, already setting the saddening tone.
When I am dead. My dearest”, here dearest is obviously her lover, and then goes on to say “Sing no sad songs for me”, the sad songs would be the dirge, which is what is sung at a funeral to mourn. You already gather the impression that she does not want to be mourned over, this is supported by the rest of the poem, further on in the first verse, the sixth line says “With showers and dewdrops wet”, I think the dewdrops are representing tears and Christina Rosetti is saying how she does not want her lover to be sad and cry for her.
She then makes, what I feel is a very considerate remark, “And if thou will, remember, And if thou will, forget”, which is her telling her lover that if he remembers her do not mourn and if he eventually does forget her, then she will be fine with that. The second verse is written about the things that she will not see, such as, “I shall not see the shadows, I shall not feel the rain”, I think she is saying this to help her lover come to terms that when she is gone he shouldn’t mourn because she will not be able to know it so he should not bother. The poem comes to an end with the lines, “Haply I may remember, and haply may forget.
You can tell she really does not want her lover to mourn and basically, she wants him to go out and be happy and if he fell in love again she would be happy for him. I realised there are two ways at looking at this poem, one is that this is the kind of true, considerate love and she cares so much about her lover that she does not want him to be sad and mourn, just to be happy whether he forgets her or not. Or, the other way you could look at it, (which is no where near as nice), would be that she may not particularly care, and that she would rather him leave her alone to die in peace!