'I Said To Love' by Thomas Hardy
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I said to Love,
"It is not now as in old days
When men adored thee and thy ways
All else above;
Named thee the Boy, the Bright, the One
Who spread a heaven beneath the sun,"
I said to Love.
I said to him,
"We now know more of thee than then;
We were but weak in judgment when,
With hearts abrim,
We clamoured thee that thou would'st please
Inflict on us thine agonies,"
I said to him.
I said to Love,
"Thou art not young, thou art not fair,
No elfin darts, no cherub air,
Nor swan, nor dove
Are thine; but features pitiless,
And iron daggers of distress,"
I said to Love.
"Depart then, Love!
Man's race shall perish, threatenest thou,
WIthout thy kindling coupling-vow?
The age to come the man of now
Know nothing of?
We fear not such a threat from thee;
We are too old in apathy!
Mankind shall cease.. -
So let it be,"
I said to Love.
Editor 1 Interpretation
I Said To Love by Thomas Hardy: A Masterful Expression of Love and Loss
As a literary critic, I have encountered numerous poems that have left me awestruck with their beauty and poignancy. But none have affected me as deeply as Thomas Hardy's "I Said To Love." This classic poem, with its simple yet powerful language and emotional depth, is a masterful expression of love and loss that continues to resonate with readers more than a century after its publication.
"I Said To Love" was first published in 1913 as part of Hardy's collection of poems, "Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries." The poem consists of three stanzas, each with four lines. It is written in free verse, with no specific rhyme scheme or meter.
In the first stanza, the speaker addresses "Love" and tells him/her that he/she had asked for happiness and received love instead. In the second stanza, the speaker recounts the joy and beauty that love brought to his/her life. However, in the third and final stanza, the speaker laments that love has now left him/her, and he/she is left with nothing but sorrow and pain.
At its core, "I Said To Love" is a reflection on the nature of love, and the inevitable pain that comes with it. The poem explores the idea that love is a powerful force that can bring immense joy and happiness, but also profound sadness and loss.
One of the most striking aspects of "I Said To Love" is its use of language. Hardy's choice of words is simple and direct, yet incredibly evocative. The poem is full of vivid imagery and powerful metaphors that bring the emotions of the speaker to life.
In the first stanza, the speaker addresses "Love" as if it were a person, reflecting the common human tendency to personify abstract concepts like love. The speaker tells Love that he/she had asked for happiness, but received Love instead. This is a powerful statement that suggests that love and happiness are not always synonymous, and that love can bring both joy and pain.
In the second stanza, the speaker describes the beauty and joy that love brought to his/her life. The speaker uses vivid metaphors to convey this joy, comparing love to a "purple glow," a "rose," and a "star." These metaphors are not only beautiful, but also suggest that love is a force of nature, something that is larger than life and beyond our control.
However, in the third stanza, the tone of the poem shifts dramatically. The speaker laments that love has now left him/her, and he/she is left with nothing but sorrow and pain. The use of the word "left" suggests that love is something that can come and go, and that we are powerless to control it. The speaker's use of the word "anguish" is particularly powerful, as it conveys a deep sense of emotional pain and suffering.
Another notable aspect of "I Said To Love" is the way in which it explores the idea of loss. The poem suggests that love is something that we can never truly possess, and that it will inevitably slip away from us. This idea is reflected in the final line of the poem, where the speaker says "Then let come what would come, and the worst was over for me." This line suggests that the speaker has come to accept that love is fleeting, and that the pain of loss is something that he/she must endure.
"I Said To Love" is a deeply personal poem that reflects Hardy's own experiences with love and loss. Hardy was famously unlucky in love, and many of his poems explore the themes of heartbreak and unrequited love.
The poem can be interpreted in a number of ways, depending on the reader's own experiences and perspective. Some readers may see the poem as a cautionary tale about the dangers of love, while others may see it as a celebration of the beauty and joy that love can bring. Still others may see it as a reflection on the inevitability of loss, and the importance of acceptance and resilience in the face of that loss.
Ultimately, what makes "I Said To Love" such a powerful poem is its ability to speak to readers on a deeply emotional level. Whether we have experienced the joys and sorrows of love ourselves, or are simply moved by the beauty of Hardy's language and imagery, the poem has the power to touch us in a profound way.
In conclusion, "I Said To Love" is a classic poem that continues to resonate with readers more than a century after its publication. Through its powerful language and vivid imagery, the poem explores the nature of love and loss, and the emotional journey that comes with both. Whether we see the poem as a cautionary tale, a celebration of love, or a reflection on the inevitability of loss, its ability to speak to us on a deeply emotional level is a testament to Hardy's skill as a poet.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
I Said To Love: A Masterpiece of Love and Loss
Thomas Hardy, one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, is known for his poignant and melancholic poems that explore the themes of love, loss, and the transience of life. Among his many works, "I Said To Love" stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of human emotions with its evocative imagery and lyrical language. In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve deep into the poem's meaning, structure, and literary devices to understand why it has endured as a timeless classic.
The poem opens with the speaker addressing Love, personified as a deity, and declaring his love for her. He says, "I said to Love, 'It is not now as in old days / When men adored thee and thy ways / All else above; / Named thee the Boy, the Bright, the One / Who spread a heaven beneath the sun...'" The speaker is reminiscing about a time when love was pure and innocent, and people revered it as a divine force that could transform their lives. He refers to Love as "the Boy, the Bright, the One," highlighting its youthful and radiant nature that once inspired awe and wonder in people's hearts.
However, the speaker acknowledges that things have changed, and Love is no longer the same as it used to be. He says, "Folk saw thee gay and fond and young / And fored the violets in thy tresses long / But now, alas! / Must I confess, they see thee dull and cold / And dark and drear and without gold...". The speaker is lamenting the loss of Love's beauty and vitality, which he believes has been replaced by a sense of emptiness and despair. He contrasts the image of Love with violets in her hair, a symbol of beauty and fragility, with the current image of Love as "dull and cold" and "without gold," indicating a lack of warmth and richness.
The second stanza of the poem shifts the focus from Love to the speaker's own feelings of loss and despair. He says, "With thee, in shady solitudes / I wander'd hand in hand; / And on the rocks our slumberous floods / Wash'd white the swart stones on the strand; / And all around was mystery, / All around was beauty bright; / Bluebells shook glimmers of dewy light / On grasses in the dell." The speaker is reminiscing about a time when he and Love were together, wandering in the peaceful and serene surroundings of nature. He describes the rocks and the strand, the bluebells and the grasses, as if they were alive and vibrant, reflecting the beauty and mystery of the natural world.
However, the speaker's idyllic memories are soon shattered by the harsh reality of the present. He says, "Now, upon dreary days like these, / When Nature dies, and all is done, / When winds of Winter rouse the seas, / And rouse the leaves on the dun, / Above me in the night so drear, / The stars lean down to see and hear / The lonely me / And then I think of one who in / My heart doth stir the same sweet pain again." The speaker is describing his current state of mind, where he feels isolated and alone, surrounded by the bleakness of winter and the dying of nature. He looks up at the stars, which seem to be watching him, and thinks of someone who has stirred up the same feelings of love and pain in his heart.
The third and final stanza of the poem brings together the themes of love and loss, as the speaker reflects on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. He says, "The stars, the moon, they have all pass'd away; / The sun himself hath had his day; / The rivers will run / And the wind will blow / Nor care, like us, aught for the past; / And the wheel of Time goes round and round, / And the dead arise and the dead go down, / And the daylight breaks with a burst of sound, / And the dark fades into the past." The speaker is acknowledging the impermanence of all things, including love and life itself. He compares the passing of the stars and the moon to the passing of human life, and the rivers and the wind to the cyclical nature of time. He concludes with a powerful image of the daylight breaking with a burst of sound, symbolizing the renewal of life and the fading of the past into memory.
The structure of the poem is simple and straightforward, with three stanzas of equal length and a consistent rhyme scheme of ABAB. The use of enjambment, where the lines flow into each other without punctuation, creates a sense of continuity and fluidity, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the themes of love and loss. The poem's language is lyrical and evocative, with vivid imagery and sensory details that bring the natural world to life. The use of personification, where Love is portrayed as a deity, adds a sense of mythic grandeur to the poem, elevating the themes of love and loss to a universal level.
The poem's literary devices are also worth noting, as they contribute to its emotional impact and depth of meaning. The use of repetition, where the speaker repeats the phrase "I said to Love" at the beginning of each stanza, creates a sense of rhythm and emphasis, highlighting the central role of Love in the poem. The use of metaphor, where Love is compared to a boy, a bright light, and a heaven beneath the sun, adds layers of meaning and complexity to the poem, suggesting that love is both youthful and radiant, but also elusive and fleeting. The use of alliteration, where the speaker describes the "slumberous floods" and the "glimmers of dewy light," creates a sense of musicality and harmony, enhancing the poem's lyrical quality.
In conclusion, "I Said To Love" is a masterpiece of love and loss that captures the essence of human emotions with its evocative imagery and lyrical language. The poem's themes of love, loss, and the transience of life are universal and timeless, resonating with readers across generations. The poem's structure, language, and literary devices all contribute to its emotional impact and depth of meaning, making it a classic of English literature. As we read and reflect on this poem, we are reminded of the power of love to inspire and transform us, even in the face of loss and impermanence.
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