Saturday, January 21, 2012

Types of Love

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Greater love, by Wilfred Owen and First Love, by John Clare are about two different kinds of love. First love reflects the shallow love felt by a naive teenager, while Greater Love takes love one step forward, turning it into a profound, powerful and complicated feeling in a warlike situation. While First Love is a typical, conventional love poem, Greater Love deals with unconventional love for men in battlefields.

First Love could be evaluated as a simple, inexperienced situation where the narrator falls in love for the first time. The quote

“With love so sudden and so sweet,” shows how many unknown emotions suddenly emerged into the narrator’s life, after he met his loved woman, and her face “bloomed” into his mind. It’s subject is very distinct to that of Owen’s poem Greater Love, which is mature, and subverts images of impeccable women to the grotesque images of soldiers dying in WW1. The quote

“O Love, your eyes lose lure. When I behold eyes blinded in my stead,” proves Owen’s point that the eyes of a women will never be beautiful as men’s eyes which were hideously blinded in war to defend their beloved nations. In Greater Love, the narrator says that men in the war suffer a lot more than men who suffer for women, for he compares pathetic love for women, to love for his fellow soldiers in WW1. However, the conventional images in Greater Love and First Love are similar.

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Both poems have various thematic similarities. Both convey images of violence and gentleness ate the same time, using physical imagery such as blood, to explain their different ideas of love. In First Love, ideas of movement and paralysis are contrasted throughout the poem, with physical imagery and ideas of exciting emotions. These emotions which make the narrator feel overwhelmed by his lover make the ideas of movement and paralysis seem effective. In the quote

“My face turned pale as deadly pale. My legs refused to walk away,” the narrator is in a stationary situation, as if he had no life of his own. The succeeding quote

“My life and all seemed turned to clay,” is effective as it shows how humanity and life were being drained from the narrator by his lover, who stole his unknown emotions. It also has a religious sense, as of when Adam was made from clay, as if the narrator was going back to that stage. The idea of “deadly pale,” as well as other violent ideas are effective, because they express the intense revolution which was going on in the narrator’s mind, and how confused he probably felt. The quote in Greater Love

“Red lips are not so red. As the stained stones kissed by the English dead,” shows the contrast between a pleasant, conventional image of love, and a shocking, non-conventional idea of love as a woman’s whole lip is subverted to the hideous blood which remained from the courageous men who died in war. The delicate word “kissed” is also used aggressively. In Owen’s poem, love for his companions is shown, instead of love for his country, or women, as in First Love, and he subverts images of perfect women, such as “eyes,” or “pale skin, ”to distorted men dying. Similarly to First Love, no emotional images are used. The theme of “shame” is used in both poems, especially Greater Love. Owen attempts to transfer shame to his readers, and lovers reading his poem, for being futile and suffering for superficial love while soldiers suffer a lot more in war. Owen also pities himself for his experiences, and for not being able to love simple things anymore. With his repetition of negative words such as “lips are not so red,” he creates a negative response to our world of glamour and peace. A lot of embarrassment is shown in First Love, such as the quote

“My blood rushed to my face.” This quote creates an image of shame because it shows how the narrator was blushing for loving a woman, as well as an image of violent and gentleness. Greater Love shows no emotional distance towards the narrator’s companions, while First Love shows a emotional distance in the quote

“And when she looked, what could I ail?” This shows how the loved woman believed the narrator was sick, for she did not understand his appeal for love, and it shows emotional distance.

Both poems have a nostalgic tone, in a sense that in Greater Love, the narrator does not want the soldiers to die such as in the line

“for you may touch them not,” where he regrets not being able to be with the soldiers. In First Love, Clare misses being young and naive. At the start, Clare using a surprised tone with a lot of impact, especially with the word “struck,” which is effective as it means to hit, or realise. It is a monosyllabic word with a sharp, onomatopoeic effect due to it’s short vowel sound “uck”. The word “ne’er” is effective as it allows “struck” to take the line’s impact and it uses Archaic language to keep up with traditional poetry. In Greater Love, the tone mocks the idea of conventional love. Both poems get calm tones as they develop as in

“ may weep..” has a much more gentle tone than the start of Greater Love, for it reaches a conclusion after putting Owen’s main point through about his peers. In the end, he feels defeated and upset, not angry. First Love also has development, for in the last quote

“My heart has left it’s dwelling place,” when Clare reaches an effective conclusion that he feels as if his heart was eternally stolen by his lover who drained away his emotions, for movement and paralysis terminates.

Greater Love and First Love both have regular rhyme schemes, and meter.

To conclude, the ends of both poems show the permanence of love, for the soldiers in the war will always remain in people’s memory as they grieve, and Clare’s heart will never return, he will eternally adore the woman mentioned in his poem. To emphasise my point, both the naive, conventional poem and the grotesque, unconventional poem have shocked me, for people can relate to them whether they are mature or unexperienced, going through first love, or superficial love.

105 words.

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