Refer to four poems and compare how these relationships are shown and described. Focus on the language and style of poem used to convey the emotions, balance of power and meaning between the men and women in each
The four poems I have chosen are –
* The Lady Of Shalott
* La Belle Dame Sans Merci
* First Love
* To His Coy Mistress
The poet is completely mesmerized by his love. He had not known love or been infatuated before. The softness of his love shows in the way he refers to,
“Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower.” (Verse one. Line three)
His love is an uncontrollable love with his face turning pale and his legs refusing to walk. The gentleness of the love portrays where he feels his life turns to clay, where clay being a soft earth.
The second verse becomes a more dramatic love from the man,
“And then my blood rushed to my face.” (Verse two. Line one)
His eyes being sensitive to a musical emotion,
“They spoke as chords do from the string.” (Verse two. Line seven)
The softness returns again in the third verse when he talks about his love again, describing his love with winter flowers and snow.
The loves do not speak and no physical contact is mentioned. She seems to accept the love by being silent and repays the emotion with her by just being with him.
Her beauty is a magnet to his love. He seems more drawn to her, as her feelings are not mentioned only,
“She seemed to hear my silent voice.” (Verse three. Line three)
To His Coy Mistress
He starts with a kind and adoring approach to getting the lady into bed with him in the first part of the poem, up to line twenty. In this part he uses time as a positive force saying that he could flatter her forever and she could refuse him and he would be fine with that,
“I would love you ten years before the flood: And you should, if you please, refuse, Till the conversion of the Jews.” (Line seven)
When this fails, he tries to scare her into it by using time as a negative power,
“That long-preserved virginity: And you quaint honour turn to dust.” (Line 28)
Here the poet says that the honour of being a virgin means, nothing when you are dead and our lives are too short not to.
He mocks her for being a virgin but in these times being a virgin was the only way for women to maintain a good reputation
It shows the man trying the relationship between men and women; however, it does show the man trying to take more responsibility by the act of sex being an expression of the love the two share not just a random pleasurable experience at the beginning. Although later, we see this is actually him faking it for sex. This is an example of a man being irresponsible by trying to seduce the women. He doesn’t really seem to have any feelings of love for her other than the ones he pretends to have,
“My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires, and more slow” (Line 11)
This means his love for her will grow enormous and the image of the vegetable is probably perhaps suggests that the love is almost natural.
This poem shows an aggressive male with no respect for his lovers feeling whereas the ‘First Love’ poem was a greater feeling of emotional love.
The poet starts the poem as a couple,
“Had we but world enough, and time.” (Line one)
It continues the actions as a couple but he has a very authorative attitude towards her. He has a little respect for the lady, which seems unnecessary because she is a respectable lady. He tells of the vastness of his love referring to years,
“A hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze. Two hundred to adore each breast: But thirty thousand to the rest.” (Line 13)
Comparing the two poems, First Love is a romantic poem describing his feelings and the way that love can make you feel. It uses similes and comparisons to show a gentle true love between the two. Whereas, To His Coy Mistress is very different. It is a cleverly disguised three-staged argument where he is by also using great emphasis on similes and comparisons almost trying to scare the girl. This is not true gentle love between the two but more persuasion and different wants of two people.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
The poet meets a knight by a woodland lake in late autumn. The man has been there for a long time, and is evidently dying.
The knight says he met a beautiful, wild-looking woman in a meadow. He visited with her, and decked her with flowers. She did not speak, but looked and sighed as if she loved him. He gave her his horse to ride, and he walked beside them. He saw nothing but her, because she leaned over in his face and sang a mysterious song. She spoke a language he could not understand, but he was confident she said she loved him. He kissed her to sleep, and fell asleep himself.
He dreamed of a host of kings, princes, and warriors, all pale as death. They shouted a terrible warning — they were the woman’s slaves. And now he was her slave, too.
Awakening, the woman was gone, and the knight was left on the cold hillside.
This poem is a Ballard.
In this poem the women is completely different to First Love and To His Coy Mistress. In those two poems the women are very weak and powerless but in La Belle Dame Sans Merci she is a very dominant woman and the man respects and loves her and he thinks she loves him back.
“And her eyes were wild.” (Verse. Line 4)
This line shows that as soon as the men saw her, he was very attracted to her.
“I made a garland for her head.” (Verse VI. Line 1)
This line shows the man is very loving and caring towards the women, as he has gone to the trouble to make her something. In the previous poem I studied the man was completely opposite as all he wanted to do was make love to the women in To His Coy Mistress and was even frightening the women. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci the man wanted a proper relationship with the women as he was in love with her and was not thinking about just sexual thoughts, as was the other man.
“I love thee true.” (Verse VII. Line 4)
This is what the women said to him. This is the only poem from the first three where the women has told the man that she likes him. This could be just what the man thinks she said, she has a power over him and he adores her, so we don’t know if the woman feels the same if this line is not true.
“Alone and palely loitering.” (Verse XII. Line 2)
This is what the man says when he realises the women has gone, and he is left alone. The women might have just been using the man, as where in the other poems the women did not do anything, but in this poem the women at least pretends to like him or actually does like him.
The lady of shalott
The Lady of Shalott is a magical being that lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur’s Camelot. Her business is to look at the world outside her castle window in a mirror, and to weave what she sees into a tapestry. She is forbidden by the magic to look at the outside world directly. The farmer who lives near her island hears her singing and knows who she is, but never sees her.
The Lady sees ordinary people, loving couples, and knights in pairs reflected in her mirror. One day, she sees the reflection of Sir Lancelot riding alone. Although she knows that it is forbidden, she looks out the window at him. The mirror shatters, the tapestry flies off on the wind, and the Lady feels the power of her curse.
An autumn storm suddenly arises. The lady leaves her castle, finds a boat, writes her name on it, gets into the boat, sets it adrift, and sings her death song as she drifts down the river to Camelot. The locals find the boat and the body, realize whom she is, and are saddened. Lancelot prays that God will have mercy on her soul.
In this poem the men and women are completely different to all the others. The men in all the others have always liked the women and have tried to be with the women. However in this poem it is the other way round, this women seems very desperate as she is stuck alone in this tower, which could be forever. When she sees Sir Lancelot she knows he is very attractive and she gives into temptation.
“She left the web, she left the loom.” (Verse 13. Line 1)
After now looking at Sir Lancelot directly she has broken the curse and something is going to happen to her. Sir Lancelot has not even seen her, so he may not even find her attractive whereas in the other poems the men are all attracted to the women.
“In the stormy east-wind straining.” (Verse 14. Line 1)
It has already started to begin and now the women knows that something is going to happen to her.
As Sir Lancelot is a attracted man, this time in all the four poems the man has the power to be able to control the women, where in this case he has, by making the women look at him as she is very alone and not knowing what is going to happen to her.
In these four poems there are similarities between them. In First Love and La Belle Dame Sans Merci the men act the same way towards the women as they both fall for her and both want to be with her. Only in La Belle Dame Sans Merci does the man think the women likes him as well but she might of just been using him. Only in these poems are the men similar as the women are different as in La Belle Dame Sans Merci she says to him she loves him.
To His Coy Mistress is different to all the others as the man comes across very dominant as all he wants to do is sleep with the women but the women does not feel ready. You could relate the women in this to First Love, as they both might not feel the same way about the men. The women in To His Coy Mistress starts to get scared as the man is frightening her as she does not want to sleep with him too early, so he is starting to get angry.
In The Lady Of Shalott you cannot relate the men and women to any other of the poems as this time the man has the power over the women, and she is very desperate and breaks the curse for Sir Lancelot by just looking at him. In all the other poems the women have been different in either not liking the man in the same way, or could just be using the man and now been very attracted to the man, Sir Lancelot in this case.