When We Two Parted, How Do I Love Thee and Remember

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The speakers in the poetry studied see marriage in very different ways and their attitudes frequently contrast with the popular attitudes toward relationships of the time period. The poems I will be focusing on are “When We Two Parted”, “How Do I Love Thee” and “Remember”, these poems were all written in the Victorian era. I will be studying the language used in the poems and the meaning of them; also I will be exploring the form and structure of each poem.

In the Victorian era marriages were very different to marriages of the present day; women had to obey their husbands and were not allowed to cheat on them, women could not run away from their husbands because if they were caught they would be put in jail. Men in the Victorian era were a little freer; they were allowed to have sex with their wife whenever they chose by law. Men also were given all of their wife’s possessions when they married. The three poems that I will be analysing do not all have the same attitude to marriage as I just explained, firstly “How Do I Love Thee” and “Remember” have quite similar views to marriage because they both seem to love each other a lot. “When we two parted” has a very different attitude as the writer seems to be angry at her husband for something he did to her in the past.

The poem “How Do I Love Thee” is a love sonnet; this is suitable because it makes it instantly recognisable as a love poem. The poem is in Petrarch an sonnet form, the iambic rhythm of each line helps to create the sense of a regular pattern, like the beating of a lover’s heart. Evidence of this is “how do I love thee? Let me count the ways”. In terms of a rhyme scheme, the poem is divided into an octave and sestet. The fact that there is no difference in the tone between these two sections reinforces the idea that the poem is one long declaration of love.

The Petrarch an rhyme scheme of ABBA ABBA CDCDCD could be said to add to the poems message because it gives it a formal structure, reflecting that Browning s love is strong in a traditional way. Elizabeth Browning uses a lot of complex words in the poem “How Do I Love Thee”, many of the words are abstract for example “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height”, and this is abstract because you cannot measure love. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born in 1806 and died in 1861; she and Robert Browning ran off to Italy together. Elizabeth’s best known book “Sonnets from the Portuguese”, a sequence of 44 sonnets recording the growth of her love for Robert. “How Do I Love Thee” is from this collection.

Christina Rossetti was an important poet in the Victorian era. She was a very interesting woman as you can guess from the poem “Remember” because it links to her life in several ways. Firstly, we know that the Christina Rossetti did not want to be forgotten. This can possibly be seen in the poem when she writes “Remember me when I am gone away”. This could match because she is telling him to remember her when she dies.

Rossetti was also worried that when she did die he would mourn her death and never move on, this is implied in the poem with the quote “And afterwards remember, do not grieve”. The poem “Remember” also has a lot of quotes with different meanings. The actual meaning for ‘gone far away into the silent land’ is that after we die we go to a far away quiet place. Another quote with a different meaning is “…our future that you planned”, this suggests that men made all the decisions and it also suggests that he may have romantic plans for her, possibly marriage.

“When We Two Parted” is a lyric poem. It is a tuneful poem which expresses in a way the thoughts and feelings of the poem. Byron describes one of his secret love affairs, which are now over. He paints a strong image of his lover in the poem for example “colder thy kiss” is what he describes a kiss with his lover, he also say that the kiss is not a warm kiss and it also means it is a goodbye kiss with respect. The structure of the poem is good because in the 3rd verse we hear him talking about what he hears other people say about his former lover. But in the 4th you hear him talking about what he feels for her now.


The poem “How Do I Love Thee” is appealing to me because it is the only poem which is all about love all the way and it also is the only with a ABBA ABBA CDCDCD rhyme.

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