In the the three poems Remember by Christina Rosetti, Poem at Thirty-Nine by Alice Walker and Plena Timoris by Thomas Hardy the theme of love is conveyed, however the types of love vary. The love that shines through in Remember is about the sacrifices made for love. Poem at Thirty-Nine conveys the love between Father and Daughter, whereas Plena Timoris is about the dying of a relationship or love between two people.
The most striking structural feature about Poem at Thirty-Nine is its shape. The shape of the poem is long and thin and is written in free verse. The use of free verse creates the notion of the freedom she longed for as a child due to discrimination against her for being an African American woman living in a very prejudiced America. There are several lines within the stanzas that contain only one word. This holophrasis portray memories, assumably those of Alice Walker. We get the sense that each time she remembers something she writes it down. They also highlight the most important memories and reflections to the poet; Alice Walker. These memories such as “Dancing” and “Sharing” link back to her relationship with her father– thus suggesting the love she feels for him and longing for him to come back.
The literary devices used in Poem at Thirty-Nine help the theme of love break through in many ways. The use of nostalgia emerges in the final stanza with “He would have grown to admire the woman I’ve become” This gives us the notion that the poet has matured a lot and that her father would be proud of her. We get the feeling that this was not a regular occurrence when her father was alive due to the contrast with the quotation “Must have grieved him.” The fact that Alice Walker seeks her father’s approval tells us that she admires her father and wants him to think the best of her and most importantly to love her. The insertion of assonance in the 5th stanza” Now I look and cook just like him” creates a connections and shows a similarity between father and daughter, thus emphasising their closeness and approach to life.
Also in stanza five the author has put in an extended metaphor throughout the whole stanza, which generates a comparison to her life then (which her father was still part of) to now when she misses her father and longs for his inevitable return. This too relates to my theme as the poet has a strong love and connection with her father. In the first line of the first stanza of the poem Alice Walker begins with a statement of fact this being “How I miss my father.” The repetition of this in the first line of stanza four draws our attention to this statement of fact once more and makes us think more carefully and in more depth about this love she and her father share.
“Before the end” this is an example of how Alice Walker has included euphemism in her poem. We get the idea that her reasoning for this is to make her feel slightly better about the fact that she has lost her beloved father. The effect this has on the reader is that it makes the poem softer and less focused on death.
The language used throughout Poem at Thirty-Nine is generally simple however at some certain points strong vocabulary is used, for instance: “Voluptuous” which stand out more as the reader pays greater attention to them. “Voluptous” stan These words that stand out are in association with her father and how she admires him, this particular use of language reminds us how strong her love for her father truly is.
In the first line of stanza four at the end of the statement of fact there is an exclamation mark: “How I miss my father!” The exclamation mark increases the intensity of heightens the meaning of the statement by showing her pain gets worse the more she thinks of it. The reader therefore feels more drawn and attached to this sentence and feel that it must be an important aspect of this poem. Again the theme of love travels to the front of our mind as we feel sorry for Alice Walker as she has lost a loved one.
The poem “Remember” is very significant because of the time and place it was written. Remember was composed during Victorian England and is written as a Italian sonnet, also referred to as a Petrachan Sonnet. An Italian sonnet differs to a Shakespearian Sonnet as it does not use a rhyming couplet, instead an Italian Sonnet has an octave in the rhyme scheme of Iambic Pentameter. This was an unusual poem choice due to the time and place in which Rossetti lived in. Christina Rossetti is a strong member of the Anglican Church and uses this poem to express her love for God. The persona feels so strongly for God she is almost happy that she is soon to die due to her recurring illness.
This passion that Christina Rossetti feels for God connects to my overall theme of love. Another structural feature used by Rossetti is Volta, suggesting the turning point and growth of the author. Rossetti begins by saying “Remember me when I have gone away,” with the insertion of the word “Yet” her tone changes. She then goes on to say “Better by far you should forget me and smile.” This change in tone consequently portrays the love she feels for not only her human partner but for God too.
“Remember” Not only is this the title of the poem but it is also used in repetition. By having this as the title as well as using it in repetition it certifies that the audience will remember the main focus and point in this poem. Another example of repetition is “Gone away
Gone far away” This emphasizes the fact that she is no longer around; that she is absent. This would provide a stark difference to when she was alive- their relationship has gone from intimate to the opposite. The reason for this change in intimacy is due to her ever present love for God and her realisation that the only person she wants to be with is him. “Nor I half turn to go yet turning to stay” This is the segment in which juxtaposition is found in the poem. It emphasizes the fact that she is never going to come back and that her love for God will always be there no matter how hard she tries to forget it or put it to the back of her mind.
“Silent land” The silent land in which Christina Rossetti is referring to is death. By using the device of euphemism Rosetti can symbolise this passing on from life to death in a softer manner. The purpose of this is to reduce the immediate sorrow that is correlated to death. By doing this it shows hows death is not a fear of Rossetti’s.
The language used in Remember evokes a strong a deep feeling of empathy within the reader as she is sick but at the same time delighted for her as she will finally get to be with her true love; God. These mixed emotions all help the reader to better their understanding of how it must be like to be in Rossetti’s place faced with such a conflict: to long for death even though she loves a man. The comparative in this passage is “Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad.” In this particular case the poet is directing these words to her partner informing him that she would rather be forgotten than remembered in grief. This change in tone comes after the volta when her view of being remembered completely changes and it shows the tenderness Christina Rossetti feels towards her lover and tells us that she really does care for him, despite her overpowering passion for God to be with God.
The use of caesura in Plena Timoris for example ‘Her earrings twinkled; her teeth, too, shone’ creates the perfect scene of happiness. When the caesura is applied it gives a sense of a pause therefore building up the tension and enables the climax to rise to a greater height, whilst foreshadowing what is later to come. Consequently giving a notion of happiness and love, but at the same time a sense of heartbreak. The use of caesura also gives the perception that there is more to love than one simple explanation –that love is more complicated and has more to it. Thereby leading back to the theme of love.
The rhyme scheme of Plena Timoris consists of an ABBAB format, however in saying that the two A’s are not always precise nor accurate because in the first stanza they only half rhyme. These imperfections and flaws highlight how the first stanza filled with love is not what it seems.
In the first line of the final stanza in Plena Timoris the poet; Thomas Hardy has used onomatopoeia with “The girl’s heart shuddered” the effect of onomatopoeia enables the word, in this example “shuddered” to have a harsher tone and adds more severity to it.
“Dim dreads of the future.” With this piece of alliteration we as the reader perceive that “Dim” suggests these “dreads of the future” are not glaring instead they are slowly dawning on the girl. However the girl soon sees the dread and horror of the situation and comes to realise that she could quite well end up in the same situation. To protect herself the girl needs to escape so she can have the certainty that she will not end up like the woman drowning herself for the love of a man. At various points in this poem the poet has used irony. For example; “The girl’s heart shuddered; it seemed as to freeze her” This quotation has a double meaning which causes the two opposite love stories to intertwine together. The girl whose “Heart Shuddered” is the the girl from the first love story we hear about, however when you come out of water you shudder due to the cold air and the girl from the second love story is in water.
When reading Plena Timoris in my opinion one of the most obvious things about the poem is the Archaic language used. These “old fashioned” words like “Tryst” and “Blent” are essential as they show the age of the poem and time in which it was written. They also show the historical context to the poem. On one hand archaic language is being used but then there is also modern language, thus suggesting that this was happening back then and is still happening today. It shows that the world has developed and to some degree so has love but not completely. This gives the effect that love something some powerful can also be shattered so easily. The realisation is that this has happened before and may happen again; when the girl realises this she immediately backs away to avoid heartbreak.
When the climax strikes that is when Thomas Hardy introduces direct speech; “There’s a woman in the canal below.” The dialogue both gives the notion of a reality check, and gives a more defined line between happiness and sorrow. It also changes the pace of the poem as the speech is more direct so we get a more clear idea of what has happened. The fact that it is not all based in a third person view gives a broader perspective on this scenario.
The three poems all convey the theme of love in a different way. The poets of Plena Timoris, Poem at Thirty-Nine and Remember all use various techniques and devices to do so. The techniques common within the poems are repetition, (in Poem at Thirty-Nine and Remember), Euphemism (in Poem at Thirty-Nine and Remember) and empathetic language in all three. In my opinion the poem I feel to be the most successful in portraying the theme of love is Plena Timoris. This is because it shows two very different types of love. These two types contrast with each other and inform the reader that love is not just filled with happiness.