’tis abandoned //
to ocean’s waves ~ ~ ~
’tis abandoned //
Can you read subtext ¿?¿
(( soul meets soul on lovers’ lips ))
A literary analysis of Shelley’s “Love’s Poetry.”
1. The poet
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) was one of the major (Latter-day) English Romantic poets. It is pleasing to note that Shelley refused to add sugar to his tea. This was a political statement against slavery for in those times, sugar plantations depended upon slave labour.
2. The poem
What is love? Oh Jay. . . poem by poem, step by step we will learn what it is, what it means and how it manifests. “Love’s Philosophy” in spite of its title, has little to do with philosophy per se. ‘Philosophy’ in the context of this poem can be seen as the poet’s argument; the narrator’s point of view.
The first stanza begins with descriptions of the natural world and its interconnectedness. And from this the lovesick narrator turns to the human who occupies their thoughts. In the second stanza the narrator’s pleas intensify. The narrator places us in the position of his beloved and asks us to look around and ‘see the mountains kiss high heaven’. At poem’s end, we are none the wiser, did the narrator win the heart and body of the one they so dearly desired, or did they not? It is worth noting too that each stanza seems to conclude with something of a rhetorical question. Words aren’t required to answer such questions, but lips are.
This poem uses lots of natural imagery and simple verse forms (but very cleverly so) and is thus a good example of a Romantic Period poem. Needless to say, the poem’s theme is by no means original; countless poets before Shelley used the connections so evident in nature to justify the ‘naturalness’ of a desired romantic/love relationship. As many point out, there’s an influence from John Donne (or similar) — consider Donne’s 1615 poem, “A Lecture upon the Shadow”:
Stand still, and I will read to thee /
A lecture, love, in love’s philosophy.
Consider too, Donne’s poem, “The Flea,” which evokes nature in a sort of odd but somehow cute way:
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be /
Despite its focus on a well versed theme, it is the quality of the language and the brilliance of the structure that renders “Love’s Philosophy” a valid additional contribution to the thesis that is as follows: love is as natural as the birds and bees so darling, just accept my love for you and, sweetheart just accept my lining and lustful kisses for your lovely and luscious lips! As has been the way since Sappho and Catullus this theme — this insatiable subject — can be seen as part of the “nature-justifies-love nexus”:
I would argue in fact that the overt influence to Donne is more likely a note of acknowledgment and due deference by Shelley. We all, after all, pen verse upon the shoulders of giants (for all its goods and all its ails). “Love’s Philosophy” reiterates the ‘connection’ that exists between all things in the natural world and between the poem’s narrator and his object of desire. As there is unity in nature, there too should be unity in human relationships (both platonic and sexually intimate). As I wrote somewhere before:
The natural imagery in this poem is relatively simplistic and uncomplicated: ‘fountains’, ‘rivers’ and ‘oceans’ are all unmodified and description free. While they may be ‘simple,’ they are nonetheless perfectly and skillfully chosen. Note the words closely associated with physicality and intimacy:
Repetitive uses of ‘clasp’ — how the waves hold one another & how the immaterial light of the sun seems to touch the earth — stress the interconnections between elements of the natural world . The poem certainly has sensual, if not sexual, connotations (arguably it is designed to persuade not shock. The logic is thus, if in nature things ‘clasp’ one another freely, and if nature’s elements readily ‘mix’ and bond with each other, even obeying the command of God (if, unlike Shelley, his contemporary readers still believed in God’s command to procreate), then turning down the poet’s request for a kiss would be for the object in question, like him/her disagreeing with the laws of nature ;).
Anaphora — To refresh our memories anaphora, dear reader, is the repeated use of a word or phrase to reinforce meaning. In this poem anaphora will have most likely have been used to emphasise the narrator’s quiet desperation:
Enjambment — Enjambment is when a line of poetry carries on into the next line, without punctuation or pause but carrying sense. As critics say, enjambment helps the flow of meaning and pairs up passages of the poem. In “Love’s Philosophy,” Shelley does this between lines 3/4, 6/7 & 11/12.
Personification — In essence, personification means giving non-human objects human characteristics, we see this in various places in the poem:
The dominant foot in this poem is the trochee, where the first syllable is stressed and second non-stressed, producing a falling rhythm (the opposite of the iambic). As there are four feet per line (except in lines 4, 8 & 16) the metre is technically termed as a: trochaic tetrameter.* However, some lines have iambic — da–DUM — and anapaestic rhythm — da–da–DUM — and this altered beat ties in with the poem’s meaning at given points.
Know this, oh my sweetest one — breathe, feel and hear these words from two centuries ago:
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
* I rely heavily on Andrew Spacey (2019). I/m still undergraduate and my mother tongue is knot an English won; I couldn’t even distinguish between a gramophone and a homophone.
for what else can I do?
❝(Ⅲ+Ⅲ) ⅋ (Ⅲ*Ⅲ)❞
“Garden of Earthly Delights” is the contemporary title given to Hieronymus Bosch’s mesmerising work. It was painted in around 1499 and is currently on show at the Museo del Prado in Spain.
Before digging and delving a little deeper, lets enjoy each panel in turn (click each of the three below to greatly expand the image); together, the three parts of a triptych are intended to tell a story which is read from left to right:
As so little is known about Bosch, opinions and interpretations of his work have ranged from, “an admonition of worldly fleshy indulgence,” through, “a dire warning on the perils of life’s temptations,” to, “an evocation of ultimate sexual joy!” Look again at the myriad of things going on in the central panel; there is a surfeit of symbolism. Contemporary scholars are divided as to whether the triptych’s central panel is a moral warning (good 😇) or a panorama of paradise lost (bad 😈). But come on YOLO (( Jae: WOLO )) bad is good ain’t it. We say wicked to mean good and sick to mean wow. I, for one would rather wallow in the last days of Rome, than be a prudish restrained human, living not for today but the mythical afterlife.
Etymology: From Latin tri- (“three”) and Ancient Greek τρι- (tri-, “three”).
A triptych is a work of art that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works.
A group of three related novels, plays or films etc.
A vehicle similar to a bicycle, but having three wheels, two at the back and one at the front.
 (in surveying) the tracing and measurement of a series or network of triangles in order to determine the distances and relative positions of points spread over an area, especially by measuring the length of one side of each triangle and deducing its angles and the length of the other two sides by observation from this baseline. — “The triangulation of Great Britain.”
 The formation of or division into triangles.
 (In American politics) the action or process of positioning oneself in such a way as to appeal to or appease both left-wing and right-wing standpoints.
Adjective: Existing in three copies or examples.
Noun: A thing which is part of a set of three copies or corresponding parts.
Verb: To make three copies of something; to multiply by three.
A three-legged stand for supporting a camera or other apparatus.
The branch of mathematics dealing with the relations of the sides and angles of triangles and with the relevant functions of any angles.
 Shared by three parties. — “a tripartite coalition government.”
 Consisting of three parts — “a tripartite classification.”
Adjective: Something that has three colours.
Noun: A flag with three bands or blocks of different colours, especially the French national flag with equal upright bands of blue, white, and red.
With reference to the trio of trilogies introduced above:
* AESCHYLUS [1 of 3]
Aeschylus (524–456 BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian and is today described as the father of tragedy.
It’s all Greek to me
An English idiom — which may be construed as rude by some — meaning that something is difficult to understand. The metaphor makes reference to Greek as an archetypal foreign form of communication both written and spoken. The idiom is typically used with respect to something of a foreign nature. We may choose to use it to refer to texts containing too much jargon etc. The idiom/metaphor’s roots may well be a direct translation of a similar phrase in Latin: “Graecum est; non legitur” (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”) a phrase increasingly used by monk scribes in the Middle Ages, as knowledge of the Greek alphabet and language was dwindling among those who were copying manuscripts in monastic libraries. Recorded usage of the metaphor in English traces back to the early modern period. It appears in 1599 in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.
[Informal • British]
Language that is impossible to understand. — “The instructions were written in double Dutch.”
Unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing. — “Our Doctor for English Literature often talks a load of gibberish.”
Language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of technical terms. — “His essay on Plato was pure gobbledygook.”
Language or ritual causing or intended to cause confusion or bewilderment. — “A maze of legal mumbo jumbo.”
** ALIGHIERI DANTE [2 of 3]
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in the Italian city of Florence. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” is the famous phrase written above the gate of Hell in the 14th c. poem by Dante; the poem is called the “Divine Comedy” and Hell is known as “Dante’s Inferno.”
*** CHINUA ACHEBE [3 of 3]
Achebe is said to be the father of African literature in English. In spare and lucid prose, he writes of the universal tale of personal and moral struggle in a(n ever) changing world. In his most notable and accomplished work, Things Fall Apart, the individual tragedy of Okonkwo, ‘strong man’ and tribal elder in the Nigeria of the 1890s is intertwined with the transformation of traditional Igbo society under the impact of Christianity and colonialism. In No Longer at Ease, Okonkwo’s grandson, Obi, educated in England, returns to a civil-service job in colonial Lagos, only to clash with the ruling elite to which he now believes he belongs. Arrow of God is set in the 1920s and explores the conflict from the two points of view – often, but not always, opposing – of Ezuelu, an Igbo priest, and Captain Winterbottom, a British district officer.
* Six lines of six syllables.
* It’s an ailment, is love.
* It’s a sickness, is love.
* Write here.
* Rite now.
A literary analysis of Coleridge’s “Love.”
1. The poet
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher. Coleridge’s literary criticism, especially on William Shakespeare, was highly influential. In addition, he coined various phrases, including, “suspension of disbelief.” He was a contemporary of William Wordsworth — indeed they produced a number of collaborative works — and together they were amongst the key founding members of what we today class as the “Romantic Movement.”
One of Coleridge’s best known and most anthologised poems is called “Kubla Khan.” Listen to it here:
For all of his adult life Coleridge suffered from periods of intense anxiety and depression. Furthermore, he was physically unhealthy and, in attempting to overcome this used laudanum, which fostered a lifelong opium addiction (see: Lovelorn for more on opium and literature).
2. The poem
In Coleridge’s poem “Love,” the narrator (and read here: probably Coleridge writing about someone he himself was pining for) is attempting to win over a women by appealing to her tender emotions (her ‘soft spot’ so to speak). To do this he tells her a heart-wrenching story! He waxes poetic about the days of chivalry, in which a knight saved a lady from an “outrage worse than death” (let us presume it may well have been rape), is wounded in so doing and soon thereafter, dies in her arms. The women that the poem’s narrator fancies, on hearing the story, is deeply moved to tears and then — low and behold 😉 — succumbs to the narrator’s charms.
Each of this poem’s 24 stanzas is a quatrain (4 lines) and follows, I think, the ABCB rhyming pattern. The first three lines of each stanza — I’ve read it said — are written in iambic tetrameter (each line contains two sets of two beats, or “iambs” — firstly unstressed then stressed) each stanza’s last line contains only three iambs (i.e., it was written in “iambic trimeter”). [tri = three, think of a triangle!]
The theme of the poem is the glorification of love. Love, as a subject, is always engaging as it describes the most intense passion of the human heart (see: “Love letters”). In this poem there is only really a union of the hearts, and not of the body; there’s no suggestion of carnal passion. It is, in other words about love and not about sex.
Love, according to the poem’s narrator is the supreme passion of all human beings and all the other passions are slaves to it. These other passions and emotions, moreover, all contribute something to the passion of love. In their own ways they stimulate, inspire, and sustain love.
Coleridge’s “Love” has many thematic elements associated with the Romantic Period not least its stress of the emotional over the reasonable! This is evident from the second and final stanza. Another theme of poetry in the Romantic Period is the nostalgic view of past traditions such as e.g., the Medieval Era (the Middle Ages), as signified in the poem with the discussion of the knight, fighting for chivalry and a fair lady’s heart and honour:
for ten years he wooed the lady of the land
The the degree to which the poem’s narrator goes to win the heart of the woman he fancies — his true one & only — is the driving force of this poem. I say women, but maybe the narrator fancied a man… Love is Love; love is gender-blind.
In the first stanza of “Love” the narrator begins by stating that every emotion one could experience influences and is influenced by love.
All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.
Love is given agency. In the second stanza the narrator goes on to refer to himself in the first person.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
Beside the ruined tower.
This is he, this is Coleridge! His “waking dreams” his (opioid) day dreams… He recalls the “happy hour…”
The sixth stanza of Coleridge’s “Love” describes how the narrator is using his language (words & tone) to woo his woman:
I played a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story—
An old rude song...
The next stanza — I think — is meant to tell us how the women he fancies is both aroused and saddened by the somewhat risqué and scandalous medieval tale:
She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
The 17th stanza again describes how the narrator is using his language (words & tone) to woo his woman:
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturbed her soul with pity!
The poem ends with a neat – happy for ever after — ending… lovely but a fucking myth (ain’t it mate?)
I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.
* A symbolic butterfly hovers over Psyche in a moment of innocence poised before sexual awakening.
Oh Secret Sharer!
Oh my True Soulmate!
This is it:
It’s your enthusiasm /
that enamours me to you.
It is your radiant sparkle, it is your positivity. It is the bounce in your step and the way you’d instantaneously light up my mood and mind the split second we’d come into contact be that a face-to-face encounter or be it a conversation online.
I never did know just how romantically inclined I was and am. Truth be known, I’d lived in a lethargic limbo until I was awakened by you…
Boys, don’t ya know, will be boys