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How poets write about the theme of Love.

Updated on June 16, 2013

The Theme of Love

Many Poems are based on the theme of love. True love is said to be sacred and eternal. Robert Burns in "Oh my luve's like a red, red rose", Elizabeth Browning in "How do I love thee" and William Herbert Auden in "Stop all the clocks" achieve, through the use of various stylistic and literary devices and different structure of their poems and emphasis on love as the everlasting force that binds two people together.

A red, red Rose

Robert Burns: "Oh my luve's like a red, red rose"

In the poem "Oh my luve's like a red, red rose", Robert Burns makes use of similes and, even in the title of the poem, the poet compares love with the classic symbol of love - a red rose. Furthermore, he emphasises the strength of the love by the repetition of the word "red". These two literary devices create the image that the love in the poem is sweet, like the odour of a rose, but also passionate and vigorous, feelings that are associated with the red colour. The Scottish poet also compares love to a sweet tune by writing "my luve's like a melodie". This also strengthens the idea that love is beautiful and innocent.

Elizabeth Browning "How do I love thee"

Similar to Burns, Browning uses many comparisons and repetition in her poem "How do I love thee". She starts six verse with the phrase "I love thee". Through the repeated use of the phrase she stresses her love toward the person to whom the poem is addressed. Browning, unlike Burns, compares love with religion. She represents her love as free "as men strive for Right;" and pure "a they (men) strive for right." Through these comparisons the poet creates the image that love is sacred and pure.

"How do I love thee"

Auden: "Stop All The Clocks"

The poets effectively make us of repetition to emphasise their feelings about the theme of love. W. H. Auden writes in his poem "Stop All The Clocks" that his loved on was everything from him - "He was my North, my South, my East and West,". Through the repetition of the word "my" and also the use of all directions of the compass. In a similar way, Browning also repeats "I love thee" many times, that emphasising that she truly loves him.

Stop all the Clocks


However, all three authors also describe their thoughts on love in different ways. "Stop all the Clocks"' structure varies from that of "How do I love thee" but is similar to that of Burns' poem. Both poems are constructed of 4 stanzas which enable the reader to make a pause and think about the written ideas. This also creates a rhythm allowing the text to flow. In Auden's poem the structure also states something else. Each separate stanza has different techniques, which the author uses to describe his love. The second stanza has many symbols and literary devices. The work "moaning" gives a negative feeling to the atmosphere, while the symbol of peace, white doves, represents the quietness in sadness. In the third stanza, the poet exaggerates in order to strengthen the idea of love and the mourning that the love is gone. Auden makes use of everyday objects, such as "morning", "noon" and "talk" to emphasise that his love was everything to him and a regular part of his life. In comparison, "How do I love thee" has a very different structure. It is compose of only one stanza, but this also creates a flowing notion and shows the ideas in a tight collaboration.

Another difference between the poems is the tone. In both "How do I love thee" and Burn's poem, the tone is melancholy but positive, while in "Stop all the Clocks" one could describe on only the tone, but also the atmosphere and mood as sad, hopeless and depressing. The poets discuss their loves in different ways to describe their feelings about it. Auden's love is "dead" and, thus, his poem is filled entirely with sad thoughts.

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To summarize, the writers of all three poems make efficient use of similar, but also various techniques to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas. This is also true for the use of different structures, which also contribute to the total effect that the poems have on the reader. The poets all see love in different ways, but also in similar ways. - something which should, but cannot, last forever!


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