Love is a very common theme in poetry

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Many people have different views on love. Many of these views throughout the ages are explored through poetry as love has much contemporary relevance in today’s society as it ever did before. Two love poems I read which inspired me were Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 116’ and Carol-Anne Duffy’s ‘Valentine’. Shakespeare’s poem is a traditional sonnet written in the late 1660’s Renaissance period when at this time love was not a discussed topic in society. The people of society married for money or business purposes, which Shakespeare strongly disapproved of.

This may have been a factor, which led Shakespeare to write this poem. The structure of ‘Sonnet116’ is typical of poetry in the Renaissance period. The first line establishes the tone as already having something defensive about it – reinforced by the negative definitions of the first quatrain-. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds… love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds… ” The poem begins telling of what love is not. It denies the short-term everyday image of love and believes love is a very special and unique thing. This gains the reader’s attention immediately.

The tone throughout ‘Sonnet116’ is ever changing bringing an exciting development to the poem. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments. ” The poem implies difficulties, while arguing that they do not exist, really. Shakespeare presents love as being something that does not capitulate and can conquer everything. He continues to discuss love as being unreal if it does not overcome predicaments. Shakespeare has represented love as being unconditional and predetermined, “Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds, /Or bends with the remover to remove” “alters… lteration… remover…. remove… “. The following terms by their repetition of the first terms suggest effects following causes automatically, legalistically, without question – but the poem wants to contradict this: love is not like this – it is not a contract.

The emotional tone of the poem alters at this point. It goes from the apparently legalistic, distanced definition of Love to the emotionally insistent – from the negative definitions of the first quatrain to a more positive definition: It is… “O, no! t is an ever-fixed mark,” He presents a very idealistic view of love, which does not alter over time. Shakespeare writes of the ‘marriage of true minds’ – but that is in contrast to the marriage of bodies – physical love. Love does not change no matter what. Love cannot be taken away at will even when the lovers want it removed. Many sorts of storms come between lovers such as arguments but they do not shake love, or scare it away, if it’s true love. Shakespeare continues with the love theme throughout the rest of the octet. Throughout this octet the rate increases as an evident tonal shift occurs.

This portrays the absolute devotion and emotional extent of love. At the end of this octet the commanding tone reaches its climax. This portrays Shakespeare’s main theme of unconditional love. Shakespeare finishes his poem with a separately rhymed couplet “If this be error, and upon me prov’d, /I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d ” This shows his sincerity, which is represented in this couplet and is effective at crating a climax for the reader. Shakespeare well thought out structure and tonal shifts create the image of love being coherent and unique.

Shakespeare introduces us to the theme of time. He tells how time should not affect a marriage of ‘True minds. ‘ This is effective at creating a serene and thoughtful mood. Shakespeare follows this imperturbable tone throughout the sestet. “Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks” It is not time’s fool because it will be there until the end of Time. Love is not at the mercy of Time. Time may be measured in hours and weeks; love’s only proper measure begins where time leaves off “the edge of doom”. Time may alter beauty, but love will not flinch.

To define the permanency and durability of love Shakespeare uses comparisons and metaphors successfully to represent his powerful opinions. Shakespeare uses the metaphor “It is the star to every wandering bark,” as stars are traditional guiding lights which emphasises the permanency of love – for Elizabethans the stars are fixed as God, as a decoration on the floor of Heaven, places them nothing more fixed. To describe the guidance and security love can offer. Shakespeare verifies his perspective on love as being priceless and precious, “although his height be taken”.

The angle of the star could be measured through instruments – although nothing about the star – in itself – would be known – hence the difference in the poem between worth and height Shakespeare uses imagery, which illustrates his strong perspective on love. Shakespeare uses imagery again to describe love as a movement, which it is not, “Or bends with the remover to remove it”. Shakespeare uses personification to show the relationship between time and love effectively. His use of dramatic imagery such as, “love’s not time’s fool” Shakespeare creates this powerful imagery as by personifying time’s ‘bending sickle’.

He creates a clear image to the reader again by his references to times affect on ‘rosy lips and cheeks’. Love is defined by its removal from anything physical – since physical attraction – rosy lips and cheeks – is precisely what is subject to Time – i. e. physical beauty decays This stresses to the reader that love is unchangeable. Shakespeare uses his main method of style again towards the end of the sestet when the relationship between love and time is personified, ” Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks /But bears it out even to the edge of doom. “Shakespeare uses hyperbole here.

He intentionally embellishes the reference to doom to persuasively implement the perpetuity and long-term characteristics of love. Shakespeare uses this method of hyperbole again in his first octet, “Love looks on tempests and is never shaken. ” These uses of hyperbole highlight how real love is and how successful it is over all. The last couplet seeks to finally close the argument. ,”If this be error, upon me prov’d, I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d. ” Shakespeare ends this poem with this as a climax and his use of language persuades people to take his perspective.

The rhyming couplet emphases the strong conclusion. Shakespeare concludes by making a direct statement. This encourages the reader to follow his viewpoint of a seemly fixed attitude to love and its permanency. Shakespeare heightens his integrity and the meaning of the poem by ending on this direct note. In comparison Carol-Anne Duffy writes of the theme of love. Her poem is a modern poem written by Carol Ann Duffy in the 1980’s. This poem is not a sonnet. Moreover the form of the poem is irregular. It is free style and unconventional. It denies the clichi?? image of love.

Carol Ann Duffy like Shakespeare writes in response to the social and political attitudes at the time. ‘Valentine’ challenges ideas of “normal” Valentine card or present. In this intense love poem Duffy rejects traditional symbols of love, such as ‘red roses ‘or ‘satin hearts’ in favour of ‘an onion’. The tone is very important in this poem. Carol Ann Duffy gives her lover an onion instead of the normal clichi?? gift of roses and chocolates as they are over used and therefore lost all romantic value. She has put more thought into her gift and come up with something with hidden depth.

Carol Ann Duffy’s confident and direct tone reflects how powerful women’s opinions were now becoming and how they were now respected in all societies. The eighties were a time when contemporary issues like equal rights for women were emerging. In this time period Margaret Thatcher had become the first female Prime Minister. Similar to Shakespeare Carol Ann Duffy uses many tonal shifts. Carol Ann Duffy’s use of this reinforces her domineering and forceful, The tone seems to me to be confident, seductive and at the end of the poem strikes a note of warning.

Her tone is confident as she uses commands. In ‘Here’ and ‘Take it’ Duffy is telling her lover what to do. She is the one in control. She doesn’t even need to use more than one or two words. She doesn’t sound like she’d put up with any arguments and says that too much commitment and possessiveness can kill a relationship: ‘a wedding-ring/ if you like. / Lethal. ‘ The line ‘I give you an onion’ is a statement. It is delivered in a matter-of-fact way. An onion seems a fairly unromantic symbol of love.

Unlike Shakespeare Carol Ann Duffy does not only concentrate on the positive aspects of love but takes on a more realistic viewpoint, “I am trying to be truthful” She talks about the impartial and romantic caring nature of love, “It promises light/ like the careful undressing of love. ” She does however acknowledge the hurt that love can bring, “It will blind you like tears/ like a lover. ” This is unusual as most love poetry only focuses on the positive. The initial point is visual: the luminous white of the onion wrapped by the dull brown of the outermost covering.

The comparison is also richer than this: through the metaphor, Love promises both the ‘romantic’ idealisations promised by the conventional poems but also it exists here in a ‘realistic’, domestic, everyday context; it is both banal and intense. The onion is an extended metaphor. It bears a physical resemblance to the moon but the moon is also associated with love songs and sexuality. It makes you cry as love often does “It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief. ” as love may distort. Taste of onion supplies metaphor of kiss, which “will stay”.

It represents how a relationship develops and changes as the layers are peeled away. This also shows Carol Ann Duffy’s strident and confident tone. This image is blunt and to the point and in complete contrast to ‘red rose. ‘ This is similar to Shakespeare as it is speaking out against society’s viewpoint at the time but contrasts because Shakespeare opted for the more defensive and almost arrogant tone. Her use of language is very important to the overall affect of the poem like Shakespeare in the following phrase, “Like the careful undressing of love”.

The word ‘careful’ gives the impression that love has boundaries and it takes time to get to know someone properly without getting hurt. traditional method. Carol Ann Duffy uses imagery like Shakespeare to make her points more powerful to the reader. The delicacy here, though, will develop and change in the poem – by the penultimate verse, the ‘careful undressing’ will have become a ‘fierce kiss’ She uses provocative language to describe love’s ‘fierce kiss’. This shows another negative side of love of possessiveness. Shakespeare does not represent negative aspects of love.

Another point of comparison, which is one of the most, obvious is the fact that onions make you cry and so does love. In some ways it’s the reverse of how you normally write as normally you would say “a lover will make you cry like an onion does,” but the onion makes you cry like a lover does. Love can damage your self-confidence and cause stress and massive amounts of pain; “It will make your reflection/ a wobbling photo of grief” The photo wobbles because it is being seen through tears. This line is unusual as it focuses on the negative aspects of love, which is not common in love poetry but it has a realistic point.

The strong use of language in this phrase is important. ‘Grief’ is normally associated with emotions experienced with the loss of someone through death. The experience of Love is both intense, but doubtful in its duration. Like Shakespeare Carol Ann Duffy makes controversial comments. Carol Ann Duffy compares marriage to an onion, ” Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring” This shows how love can be reduced ‘shrink’ by marriage as it is a sort of anticlimax and after marriage there is no more stages and the unromantic nature of daily chores and events can kill any passion.

She talks about how a ring can reduce love as it has been create by commercialism and marriage is seen as the normal thing to do. Her point is that their love is too special to follow the normal. This element of her poem is in direct contrast to Shakespeare who states that love can be enhanced through marriage and will grow and not change over time. Shakespeare believes if it is a marriage of ‘True minds’ it will overcome any problems in its path. Carol Ann Duffy compares the small rings at the centre of the onion are visually compared to a wedding ring – light, shiny, platinum and circular like a ring.

Love is much greater – in its intensity – to the rather formalised social arrangements of marriage. It suggests the shrinkage of the experience and how marriage can reduce love in some cases. The word ‘Lethal’ portrays the strong, uncontrollable nature of love. It also symbolizes the pain it can bring. Carol Ann Duffy concludes with the strong direct blunt statement like Shakespeare, ” Its scent will cling to your fingers, / Cling to your knife. ” This is symbolic of once you have fallen in love you cannot easily forget it and its lingering affect.

This is suggesting a kind of unavoidability, and a kind of desperation – stronger than the earlier, less striking stay on your lips, and the verb itself is repeated twice The word ‘Knife’ shows the dangerous side of love. A knife is ‘natural’ and harmless in its association with an onion – but it now carries over into something a little unplaced in its association with love – suggesting something of Love’s ability to damage and hurt others. It emphases the lethal and complicated effect and problems it can create.

The Poem not clearly conclusive but ends with implied threat – kitchen knife may become a weapon for a jealous lover. We know this is a possibility as other language in the poem is sharp at times and has a threatening element such as the word ‘lethal’. The verb ‘cling’ implies the lingering of feelings or the lingering of a jealous lover wanting to be close by and the possibility of a threat that if they can not have love then they wont want anybody else to have what they think should be theirs.

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