The essays available are a comparison of Blake's "The Blossom" and "The Sick Rose"" by Joanne Box, another Blake essay, this time on "Infant Joy" and "Infant Sorrow", by Joanne Forrest, an essay on the context of genre in A Streetcar Named Desire by Emma Kendall, and "Fridge Magnet Poetry" (an exercise in the Assessment Objectives) by Leanne Bonney. Enjoy!
Compare "The Sick Rose" and "The Blossom".
Read the essay, then look at the teacher's comments! ‘The Blossom’ and ‘The Sick Rose’ by William Blake, are arguably both about love. However, they represent two contrasting types of love. In ‘The Blossom’ Blake portrays the comforting love of a parent, while in ‘The Sick Rose’ he demonstrates a ‘dark secret love’ which is so destructive that it compromises life itself.
The two different types of flowers are effective because they both symbolise the purity of nature. Blossom is often considered to represent spring and new life, suggesting an idea of youth which we often pair with innocence; taken from ‘Songs of Innocence’, ‘The Blossom’ clearly does represent this simple, childlike vision of our world. The rose, on the other hand, often stands for love, purity and beauty, and so the corruption of this flower within the poem is even more shocking to the reader. Furthermore, the rose is often used as an English symbol, with an “English rose” representing a pure, innocent, young woman; the destruction of the ‘rose’ by the ‘dark secret love’ is therefore even more effective because it could be seen to represent the Fall of Man, and the introduction of sin into the world, creating the postlapsarian setting in which many of Blake’s ‘Songs of Experience’ take place. While in the arguably prelapsarian surroundings of ‘The Blossom’ it is implied that although the robin is ‘sobbing’, it can be comforted, in ‘The Sick Rose’ the advent of experience and sin has made the previously untainted rose ‘sick’ and there appears to be no cure.
Similarly, in ‘The Sick Rose’, Blake uses complex sexual imagery, possibly to enhance the theme of the Fall of Man. The ‘bed / Of crimson joy’ may refer to the physical aspect of the love, and the word ‘joy’ suggests that this provides great pleasure. However, in the postlapsarian setting this pleasure is short-lived as it has made the rose ‘sick’ and therefore ‘crimson’, in addition to representing the colour of the rose, could possibly be interpreted to represent blood. This is effective because it reminds the audience of the deadly nature of this ‘secret love’. Blake also perhaps portrays the passion through the ‘howling storm’, but again this demonstrates the immensely powerful and destructive force of the love, as we automatically associate this image with fear and unlimited damage.
In ‘The Blossom’, however, I feel that Blake has used simpler, more positive lexis to reflect the simpler, unconditional love of the parent. Words such as ‘happy’, ‘cradle’ and ‘pretty’ represent a childlike vision of the world, in which the parent is able to solve any problem, and therefore although the robin is ‘sobbing’, it is likely to concern something trivial and so will be resolved, in contrast to ‘The Sick Rose’, where the pollution and destruction cannot be dispelled. In addition, Blake almost certainly uses the phrase ‘near my bosom’ to refer to the mother, implying that the ‘happy blossom’ is the parent of both the ‘merry sparrow’ and the ‘pretty robin’; by including plants within the unification of the natural world, we can possibly identify the ‘blossom’ as “mother nature”, who supposedly nurtures all around her, just as Blake suggests that the ‘blossom’ is comforting the ‘sobbing’ ‘robin’. I find this effective because it infers that as well as epitomising a parent, the blossom also represents a deeper, immortal force which surrounds all our relationships and this once again corresponds with the prelapsarian world when God was believed to have nurtured his children, Adam and Eve.
The simple, formulaic order of the stanzas in ‘The Blossom’ may also represent this simpler view of the world. The regularity of the form is comforting to the audience, just as the unconditional love comforts the child, and the order which Blake has created, can be seen to reiterate the concept of an ordered world in which all problems can be resolved. This simplicity is augmented by the use of repetition, such as ‘ merry, merry sparrow’ or ‘pretty, pretty robin’ which correspond with the limited vocabulary of a child, and their tendency to repeat important ideas for emphasis; in my opinion, this is particularly effective because, as well as invoking the now familiar childlike vision of the world, it reminds the reader of the innocent, trusting fascination with nature, often displayed by young children, reminding us once again of the miraculous wonders of the Garden of Eden.
‘The Sick Rose’ also appears to have a reasonably ordered form, with a regular rhyme scheme but this is ironic rather than comforting, as the chaotic nature of the content expels any suggestion of harmony. This possibly relates to the common misconception that love is a purely positive force, while it is obvious within the poem that it can actually be extremely destructive. However, the use of enjambment on several lines may represent disruption within the apparent order, implying a conflict between the order of the form and the disorder of the content, perhaps reflecting the conflict between innocence and experience, described by Blake as “the two contrary states of the human soul”. Parts of the poem are also iambic, and this is effective because it provides the illusion of speech, making the poem more personal and direct, and so involving the reader; this is particularly disturbing as it forces us to examine the impact which relationships have upon our own lives and to re-evaluate the world in which we live.
It could also be argued that the poems provide a contrast between passive and active love. In ‘The Blossom’, the parent figure appears to have a passive role, and simply ‘sees’ and ‘hears’ the birds. However, it is implied that the parent is not actually required to do anything other than to listen and observe, and that they provide comfort simply by their presence. In ‘The Sick Rose’, on the other hand, the relationship between the ‘rose’ and the ‘worm’ is clearly an active one and one that leads to destruction. This is interesting because in another work by Blake, ‘The Marriage between Heaven and Hell’, he describes evil as ‘the active springing from Energy’, in contrast to good which is ‘the passive that obeys Reason’. However, he felt that contraries were necessary for progression and so this suggests that the evil and destructive force of the ‘worm’ may not be quite so negative as it at first appeared. In reference to the description of a young woman as an “English rose”, as mentioned earlier, I feel that maybe Blake is suggesting that with experience, the rose within her has been destroyed as she enters the world of sin, corresponding once again to the Fall of Man, but this does not necessarily lead to her death, but rather the beginning of another stage in her life.
Therefore, in conclusion, I can see that Blake has effectively portrayed two contrary types of love, and yet two which are present everyday in the world in which we live. By investigating both destructive and comforting forms of love, it is possible that Blake wished for us to investigate further our relationships, as well as portraying through extended metaphors the Fall of Man and its relevance to us.
Compare Blake’s ‘Infant Joy’ with ‘Infant Sorrow’. What do they show about his conceptions of Innocence and Experience?
I am going to compare Blake’s ‘Infant Joy’ to ‘Infant Sorrow’, and will focus on how he uses the common link of infancy to illustrate his conceptions of Innocence and Experience, what he believed to be ‘the two contrary states of the human soul’. A clear, if rather bald, introduction. Good quotation from the frontispiece, however.
In the poem ‘Infant Joy’ Blake uses the simple form to mirror the innocent theme of the poem. The poem is endstopped, which suggests simplicity, and has a balanced shape on the page. This perhaps suggests order, ; however , the absence of a strict rhyme scheme implies freedom, and the thoughts and reactions appear to be voiced spontaneously, rather than sounding planned. I think Blake wants to emphasise that the poem illustrates a simple loving relationship, and that there no restrictions to this free exchange of love between mother and child. Excellent. This illustrates clearly how AO4 flows naturally from AO3.
On the other hand, everything about the form of ‘Infant Sorrow’ implies restriction. The regular line length and strict AABB rhyme scheme give an image of total rigidity and control. This control is also emphasised in the restrictive end stopping, which prevents the lines and stanzas flowing fluidly into one another.
The clear iambic meter of the poem also implies order, but this is occasionally interrupted by troches, and this variation of the rhythm possibly implies the disruption. This complements the disordered and experiential theme of the poem. You should link this to restriction in the poem with a quotation.
The innocent theme of ‘Infant Joy’ is further bolstered by the use of simple lexis. Blake uses words such as ‘happy’, ‘joy’, ‘pretty’ and ‘sweet’ which are all highly positive and depict the happiness reflected in the both the mother and child.
The words are simple and childlike, with repetition perhaps being used not only for emphasis but also to make the voice of the poem sound more like that of a child. The childlike voice of the poem shows the innocent, almost prelapsarian viewpoint taken here of this postlapsarian world. Interesting room for debate. Are there any indications that this is a “postlapsarian world”? Unlike “Cradle Song”, I can’t see any. Perhaps we have a completely prelapsarian poem here? Similarly illustrating the positive nature of the poem, Blake makes use of the word ‘thee’, archaic even in his time, to highlight the intimacy of the relationship between the mother and the child. The form also implies the close nature of this parental bond in that the words of the mother and infant share the same stanza, there is no interference between them. I feel this poem, like ‘The Blossom’, depicts the nurturing aspect of parenthood, with the simple positive lexis and tone of the poem suggesting a purely innocent view of this mothering experience. Good. For this essay, a quick quotation from “The Blossom” would assist.
This contrasts sharply with the experiential view of infanthood adopted in ‘Infant Joy’. From the very first line lexis such as ‘groaned’, ‘wept’, ‘naked’ and ‘helpless’ all give a negative image of childbirth and infancy. Whereas in ‘Infant Joy’ the relationship between parent and child was free and intimate, here the child is ‘struggling’ against the father’s hands. Blake shows how the energy with which the child ‘leapt’ into the world is restricted by his parents, for in this postlapsarian society, restriction was preached as being good and right by instruments of the state such as the church. Blake believed that evil was the ‘active springing from energy’, therefore it is appropriate that the energy of this child is restrained. Yes. Does this explain the image of the child being like a “fiend”?
Blake uses the ‘swaddling bands’ symbolically in the poem to represent the restriction imposed upon the infant by the parents. We see how the child is ‘struggling’ and ‘striving’ against the physical bindings placed around it, but how eventually it is forced to accept the regulation, just as the people of this postlapsarian world accept the limitations of their society. The child is ‘naked’ and ‘helpless’, showing its weakness and vulnerability, it has no choice but to be quashed by rule. However, Blake allows the reader to see the resentment restriction breeds, with words such as ‘bound’, ‘weary’ and ‘sulk’ in the last stanza. The mother’s breast no longer becomes a symbol of nurture and comfort to the child, and the restriction has come between them. There is an acute difference between the distant relationship portrayed here, and that in ‘The Blossom’, for example, where the ‘bosom’ of the parent brings comfort and warmth to the sobbing robin. Blake illustrates how the nurturing aspect of parenthood can be compromised by restriction. Well analysed, Jo.
This interference of the parental bond is not, however, seen in the poem ‘Infant Joy’. In this poem the child has never experienced anything but joy and has almost become a symbol for the emotion itself. The child is not only called by the name of ‘Joy’; it epitomises everything this emotion suggests. Blake implies this with the line ‘I happy am’. By placing the adjective before the verb, the word ‘happy’ is emphasised, and we identify with this emotion. By expressing sentence in this way, the happiness becomes almost a state of being rather than simply a feeling, making this emotion more powerful. Blake shows the purity of a child who has known nothing but innocence. Writing a lot about a little. Excellent AO3. On the other hand we see how the child in ‘Infant Sorrow’ is described as ‘Like a fiend hid in a cloud’. The word ‘fiend’ is possibly a reference to the idea of the devil, and perhaps suggests evil. Yes. Remember Blake’s definition of evil, however, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy." By this definition, the Tyger is also evil (but only by this definition, arguably!) I find this idea interesting as this child, who has energy and is able to leap into the world and pipe loudly, is almost portrayed as a threat to the restrictive postlapsarian society. An infant that has briefly known freedom but then been bound by the restrictions of society learns to resent and we see the unhappiness in this poem. The child has an experiential viewpoint of the ‘dangerous world’ it had been brought into despite its youth.
These poems are particularly effective in showing Blake’s attitude to innocence and experience as they separate the idea of innocence from youth; Blake destroys this common misconception by offering us two contrasting viewpoints from infants of the same age. We see how the child in ‘Infant Sorrow’ has an experiential viewpoint even though it is only very young, and yet how the mother in ‘Infant Joy; retains an innocent view of life despite her age. Blake perfectly demonstrates in these two short poems that the states of innocence and experience are independent from age. I feel this is what makes this pair of poems so useful in understanding Blake’s views on ‘Innocence’ and ‘Experience’, and the insight they give us into human nature.
Thank you, Jo: this is compelling, focused and incisive. You analyse AO3, and your AO4 is clearly derived from that analysis. A (very good) A, of course.
A Streetcar Named Desire: with reference to Scene III, how does Tennessee Williams use the context of drama?‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ can be read as a novel or viewed as a black and white movie starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, but it was originally intended to be seen on stage. Within this context, the play’s genre is unclear – it has elements of tragedy, hints of romance and some of the attributes of a psychological thriller, depending on the director’s interpretation of the plot and stage directions. Better to refer to these as sub-genres here. When we say “the context of genre” we primarily mean “the fact that it’s a play”. When reading the play as a novel, it is evident that Williams had a very specific visual image of how each scene would appear on stage, and the stage directions throughout every scene are precise and detailed. However, Williams’ stage directions go beyond simple instructions for movement and intonation – the indications of which colours and accompanying music must be used are, at times, lyrical, and describe the exact mood that must be achieved, and the precise way in which props must be used and laid out.How can the play be read as a novel? This is rather confusing: do you mean read as a play or viewed by an audience? Whether we read or view it, it is still a play.
Within the ‘drama’ context, there are a number of different elements. Tennessee Williams uses in-depth stage directions, printed in italics at the beginning of each scene, and sporadically throughout the play, to dictate the type of lighting, music and dramatic movement that should be used. These elements combine to create the overall atmosphere of each scene. At many points in the play, various lighting effects and musical overtures are used to reflect conflict or tension between characters, be it in terms of a verbal dispute or a clash of personalities.
Focusing on Scene III, ‘The Poker Night’, it is interesting to consider that the play was originally given the same name, indicating the importance and significance of this scene to the development of the story, and to the audiences understanding of characters and themes. Scene III is also interesting from a contextual viewpoint, as Williams’ manipulation of the dramatic medium is evident throughout.
Looking at the use of context to convey the atmosphere or ‘mood’, it is clear that Williams begins to ‘set the scene’ before any of the characters speak, through specific lighting techniques and use of colour. The lighting in the kitchen where the poker game takes place is described as ‘raw’ and ‘lurid’ – words that can instantly be associated with the character of Stanley, who in previous scenes has been established as an aggressive, intense character. The ‘vivid green’ shade of the light, the yellow linoleum and the ‘vivid slices of watermelon’ all accentuate the ‘powerful’ and ‘direct’ characters of the men, an image that Williams magnifies with the ‘coloured shirts’ they all wear. The idea of ‘primary colours’ is a particularly interesting one, as it calls to mind a strong, dominant character – an idea that is personified by Stanley. The use of these colours in the ‘poker night’ scene shows that we are now in Stanley’s world, and that this is Stanley in his ‘natural environment’, and at his prime.
These bold, bright colours are a complete contrast to the colours associated with Blanche, who dresses in pale, pastel shades, was described in the stage directions as ‘moth’-like and first entered the stage bathed in soft, ‘tender’ blue light. This stark contrast between characters is Tennessee Williams’ way of showing us continually throughout the play the clash between Blanche’s world and Stanley’s world, and accentuates the choice that Stella, caught in the middle, has to make. Excellent AO5 analysis
Williams also uses dramatic devices to convey the emotions of characters, and to express their state of mind. If ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ was Subjunctive – “If it were a novel… a novel, this emotion could be expressed with words and metaphors, i.e. ‘Blanche felt confused and alone’. However, in a dramatic format, the means of expressing emotion are limited – a character’s feelings can be vocalised in dialogue, but this is sometimes a blunt and inelegant way of conveying intense emotion. Therefore, throughout the play Williams uses music to signify emotion, and again to show the conflict between Blanche and the harsh reality of her situation that she refuses to face, and her changing state of mind. For example, during the poker game when Blanche turns on the radio, the music playing is Rhumba music – upbeat, dancing music. This signifies that Blanche is in a flirtatious, gay mood, which is confirmed in her interactions with Mitch, who she flirts with in a coy, yet blatantly experienced manner – the way in which she says ‘I can’t make it out’ when Mitch shows her the inscription on his cigarette case, causing him to move closer is an indication that Blanche, innocent as she may try to appear, knows how to use her womanly charms to attract the attention she craves. Lighting effects are also used to express this need to be desired by men - when removing her blouse, Blanche stands ‘in the light through the portieres’, which means that her figure would be fully outlined in shadows and visible from the room where the poker game is taking place. Though Blanche pretends to be oblivious to (“oblivious of” – “oblivious” means “unaware”) her position when Stella points it out, it is clear that Blanche intentionally posed where she knew she could be seen - further evidence of her desire to be desired, and a subtle expression of this need using the dramatic device of lighting effects. Yes: you could also look at set: the way the set is divided into the luridly lit kitchen, and the darkened bedroom. (Conflict)
Music is also used to express the relationship between Stanley and Stella – at the end of scene III, a sensual, sexual mood is generated by the sound of a ‘low tone clarinet’, with echoes of the ‘blue piano’ used throughout, as the lovers come together.
The ‘blue piano’ in particular is an interesting device used by Williams to mark the cultural context of a scene – the blue piano runs almost like an under-tone of the culture and atmosphere of the French Quarter where Stella and Stanley live, and is also a sign of modern society – which, in turn, contrasts with Belle Reve and Blanche’s fantasies. The blue piano is also used whenever Blanche is feeling distressed or vulnerable, and symbolises the intrusion of inescapable reality into her mind. This could be said to be true of the closing moments of scene III, when Blanche is faced with her sister’s decision to go back to Stanley in such a clear, obvious manner that it is impossible for her to ignore.
Williams also uses light and sound as a subtle marker for the impending entrance of other characters - in this scene, the light from the poker game ‘spills through the window and onto the street’, where Blanche and Stella will shortly approach, and later in Scene IV, the noise of a passing train indicates the arrival of Stanley. This is an extremely skilful way of controlling the audience’s reaction to each scene - using light and sound as an indication to the audience of the presence of unseen characters gives the audience a feeling of being ‘one step ahead’ of the characters on stage, and also adds to the feeling of inevitability that runs throughout the play, both in terms of the rape, and Blanche’s ‘breakdown’. This technique is an example of more elaborate and complex manipulation of the play’s dramatic context - as Williams manages to immerse the audience in the development of the story through careful stage directions that, if used effectively, could give the audience an elevated status, and a feeling of looking down on the characters, knowing what is to happen, and unable to prevent it - the very essence of a tragic piece of drama. Good!
The dramatic context of the play is also used by Williams to reflect the progression of events as they occur – Stanley’s continuous ‘attacks’ on Blanche and her property, both verbal and physical, gradually intensify until they reach their crescendo, marked by the disjointed sound of the blue piano turning into ‘the roar of a locomotive’, when Stanley rapes Blanche. One of the ‘attacks’ leading to the eventual rape is found in scene III, when Stanley throws the radio out of the window. This dramatic, violent gesture could be interpreted in various ways – as an indication of what is to come, or as symbol of the way in which Stanley forces Blanche to face reality, and will not allow her to seek solace in fantasies and ‘rhumba’ music. Perhaps both?
While primarily used to demonstrate to the audience the violent, passionate character of Stanley, his violent outbursts also serve the purpose of interjecting sound and sudden movement into a scene. This dramatic device is designed to grab the attention of the audience, and to clearly mark the difference between characters – Blanche’s ‘leisurely’ movements and ‘soft’ tone completely contrast with Stanley’s ‘lurching’ movements and raised voice. These acts of violence are strategically placed throughout the play, and usually precede one of the instances in which Stanley loses control. In scene III, Stanley begins by ‘tossing some watermelon rinds to the floor’, then ‘gives a loud whack of his hand on Stella’s thigh’, which then builds into him losing his temper, throwing the radio out of the window, then hitting Stella. This progression of the ‘victims’ of Stanley’s anger - from the watermelon, to the radio, to Stella’s thigh then to Stella herself - is a dramatic indication of Stanley’s rage building up and up, then exploding.
Looking at this ‘outburst’ from a different contextual perspective, the use of ‘off-stage drama and sound’ is used by Williams as an alternative to showing the drama on stage. The ‘crash’ sound, and the ‘sound of a blow’ heard out of the audience’s sight are explicit enough to make logical sense as to what is happening, but still retain Williams’ elegant use of drama - instead of shamelessly showing a man strike a woman on-stage, or showing a rape scene in its entirety, the audience sees just enough of the event to know what is happening, but not enough for the play to lose its sophistication and intelligent approach to the genre. This could also be interpreted as a subtle expression of moral opinion on the part of Tennessee Williams - events that are commonly considered as morally wrong are shown off-stage in a censored manner, so as not to detract from the more subtle emotion and character tension of other scenes. Perhaps: contextually you could look at how the rape is handled in the film. However, isn’t it more the powerful use of sub-text?
The physical layout of the stage is another example of the way in which Williams uses dramatic devices to draw attention to elements of the story, and to encourage the audience to view characters in a certain way. In the apartment where Stella and Stanley live, Williams describes a ‘thin curtain’ separating the main living area from the room Blanche occupies during her stay. Though on a superficial level, this stage design could be said to show the simple way in which Stella and Stanley live, the careful dressing of the set could have deeper metaphorical implications. As Stanley represents the harsh, brutal reality of modern society, and in scene III he prevails over the poker game in the living room, the curtain separating Blanche from Stanley could be symbolic of the thin veil shielding Blanche from the ‘real’ world. As Blanche physically covers naked light to mask herself from its glare, she also protects herself from Stanley and the society he represents – but, as indicated by the thin piece of material between the two rooms, the divide she places between herself and reality is weak and fragile. Good: although logically should this not be the first point?
The detailed and specific nature of Williams’ stage directions indicate that he had a clear visual image of how everything should look - from the characters’ clothes to the shade of light used, and the accompanying music. Focusing on scene III alone, it is evident that each of these dramatic devices is used for a specific purpose - to enhance the emotions expressed in the dialogue, to act as a warning signal to the audience of things to come, or to impose a sense of foreboding on a scene that accentuates the tension created by the movements of the cast. Whether read as a novel or seen as a play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ combines direct, raw emotion - through Stanley’s outbursts and blunt comments - with soft, subtle reflections of feelings and atmospheres, conveyed through various dramatic media.
Thank you, Emma. You have much excellent analysis, and clear focus on AO5. The essay is a little loose, however: clearly you couldn’t write 2000 words in an examination! Just bear in mind that in the Summer, you will need to be selective about the content to fit into the time allowed. The first paragraph is also rather redundant: had you started your essay with the second it would have been a little tighter in structure. Still, this is grade A material: well done.
Analysis of ‘Magnetic Poetry’(The students were asked to compose a "fridge magnet" poem, and then to analyse it in terms of AO3 and AO4. Leanne's poem is below; the teacher's comments are in red.)
“light a candle then explore the warm
The poem above was composed in haste, with no earlier planning or knowledge that it was to be my task, and despite a few moments’ panic, I actually enjoyed putting it together. I’m glad!
Admittedly, the words of this poem are not essentially my own (they were already supplied for me on the page), yet I was ‘drawn’ to some (words) more than others, not so much because of their individual meaning, but more so the image they would produce when put together.
The subject matter (of the above poem) was ‘Romance’ and I believe that the poem’s lexis looks at the more ‘passionate’ side of this; ‘burn’, ‘fevered’, ‘fire’, ‘flame’ are all strong words conjuring up, in my opinion, an image of lust, desire. The patterning of the lexis also supports this, as each line ends with one of these ‘strong’ words – ‘warm’, ‘burn’, ‘fire’, ‘flame’ - giving them and the emotion they represent significance. Even the sensual onomatopoeia of ‘whisper a kiss’ loses some of its gentleness when followed by the contrasting words, ‘and make it burn’; ‘passion’ is, in my opinion, threaded through almost every word and phrase. Equally, ‘fevered fire’ is a forceful phrase, emphasized by its alliteration and placement at the end of a line. I agree. In AO3 terms too it is interesting to see how the poem “builds”: from the gentle, sensual “Candle”, “warm”, “kiss” to the more passionate and perhaps (AO4!) sexual “burn”, “fevered fire”, “flame”. The fire imagery itself could also be explored.
I believe there is no such thing as ‘planned passion’, the very nature of the word defies ‘structure’, ‘order’ and I very much hope that the poem’s free form reflects this idea; arguably it has no form at all. There is no rhyme scheme, as I believed that this would take away from the strong emotion it contains (and which I wanted to be the main focus), and no rhythm, as I wanted for the lines to be considered as much on their own as, as part of the whole poem. This lack of structure does add a freedom to the poem and its words, the lines are linked only by their common idea, rather than by rhyme or rhythm. Clear AO3 analysis.
The final words, ‘marry me?’ add a different dimension to the poem and I am still unsure as to whether or not they really belong. On the one hand, they create intrigue; up until now the main focus of the poem has been (the idea of) ‘passion’, ‘lust’, and every line has been a demand, ‘light a candle’, ‘whisper a kiss’, but this is a question, and apparently unrelated to the lines preceding it.
On the other hand, the use of the word ‘eternal’ links with the idea of marriage, something more permanent, and there is a sense of tenderness in my opinion to the line ‘we two are an eternal flame’, which is quite different to the ‘fire’ of the previous lines. The bluntness of ‘marry me?’ stands in stark contrast to the passionate language beforehand, almost as if the speaker has tried to ‘win over’, ‘convince’ his love of his desire for her, before saying what he has really meant all along? Yes, that was my feeling too. The word “eternal” leads naturally to the concept of marriage; however, after the ecstatic imagery and lexis, the question suggests a loss of certainty, the enveloping passion has been dissipated, and the persona seems to be reduced by the pleading nature of the final line. Perhaps the poet is suggesting something about desperation here?
This is mere speculation, suggestions to which there are no real right or wrong answers, but I found that once I had composed this poem, it took on a life of its own, and I began to see possible meanings and explanations in the words which I had never been aware of before (so forgive me if I appear to be looking too deeply). Don’t apologise! Certainly I believe that this poem shows both aspects of romance side by side; passionate desire for someone, and the longer lasting love of a marriage.
Whatever can or cannot be taken away from these five lines, the poem definitely fired my imagination, and with each reading I saw new things, formed new ideas.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing and analysing my words, my poem, and can only hope that you as a reader have enjoyed it with me.
Thank you, Leanne: that was a really interesting essay, and I enjoyed your AO3/4 focus. This is the key to success at both AS and A2. You analyse well: this is good grade A work. I loved the poem too!
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