Love Poems



Even though many people would expect that all poems on love have focus on the theme of passionate love, ideal love, in most other cases, love poems present love in a shocking and cynical manner. Good examples of love poems describing love as ideal are “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” by W. H. Auden and “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. On the other hand, an example of a love poem that presents love in a cynical manner is “One Perfect Rose” by Dorothy Parker. When showing love as ideal, it is shown as a sweet thing that everyone should enjoy. This is unlike when it is shown as sarcastic as one does not appreciate the things she receives out of love.

In the poem, “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” by W. H. Auden, love is shown to be a very important thing that a person should not lose. In this case, the narrator is a woman who has lost either her husband or the man she loves. She is so much saddened by the loss that she does not want anything to come her way. She does not want other people to enjoy their lives when she is mourning. She needs all other people to put aside their activities and join her in the type of grief. She wants everyone to realize that she has lost the love of her life. This should be done by having “aeroplanes circle moaning overhead” (St2, ln1) with the words on the sky that he is dead. She wants everyone to wear mourning clothes including policemen in black gloves and crepe bows on doves.

For the narrator in this poem, she has lost the man who was all sides to her. He was her Sunday, working week, noon, midnight, talk, and song. Now that he is gone, she prefers that everything comes to a standstill. She does not see the need of the moon, the sun, the ocean, the wood, and the stars. Everything has not meaning anymore and has to perish. This is an indication all the things on earth had meaning to her because her love was alive. Now that he is gone, he has gone with them all. Auden uses alliteration such as telephone and bone, overhead and dead, doves and gloves, west and rest,song and wrong, one and sun, and wood and good, in her poem to stress on the importance of the love that existed between the two parties. Using allegory, the poet shows what ideal love is. When the narrator says that “He was my North, my South, my East, and West” (St3 ln1), it means that she loved him so much and he meant the world to her. Being her every side of the world means that he is everything she wishes to have in life.

Similarly, in the poem, “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, love is shown as the best thing a person should wish to have on earth. The poet uses allegory by relating love to so many sweet things. When the narrator says, “I love thee to the level of every day’s, Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light” (ln5-6) it means that he loves the person he is describing deeply.He starts the narration by implying that he loves her in a number of ways. This is shown through alliteration when he matches words using the same consonants. The words height and sight in the second and third lines respectively show the depth of his love. Since he loves her to deep heights, his soul is able to reach her when out of sight. This means that he has her images in her mind and soul and thus feels her presence even when he is not.

            Browning shows the reality of love by using allusion. An example is when the narrator says, “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints” (ln11-12). Relating the extent of his love with lost saints shows love as pure and pleasurable. He does not see anything better in the world that his love. This is the reason he says that given another chance, he will still love his current love. He loves her with his smiles, tears, and all his life an indication that losing her will be equated to losing his life. It is notable that children have very strong faith in what they are told to believe in. they can be argued to have the strongest faith of all people on earth. When the narrator here says that he loves his love with his childhood faith, it means that he loves her dearly. It can be argued that he loves her with all his love and thus has no love left to love anyone else.  

On the other hand, love poems can present cynical love. This is sarcastic love in which a person is not satisfied with he receives and wishes he had something different. “One Perfect Rose” by Dorothy Parker is an example of such type of a love poem. In this poem, the narrator sarcastically acknowledges the love she receives. She refers to the gift she receives as “one perfect rose” (St1 ln4). However, perfect in this case does not have the same meaning as the one people are aware of. Perfect should mean something that does not have any defect and thus something that pleases whoever has it. However, perfect in this case is used sarcastically; it is use of anecdote to symbolize something funny. It means something that should be mocked. According to her, she would rather she received something of value than only a perfect rose. This is shown by the way she starts the narration, “A single flow’r he sent me, since we met” (St1 ln1). Even though she thinks that he chose the words accompanying the flower wisely, they did not match. It is also funny that he has only sent her a single rose flower. 

In order to prove that the narrator wishes to have something better, she asks, “Why is it no one ever sent me yet, One perfect limousine” (St3 ln1-2). Limousine evidences use of allegory as the narrator does not refer to a limousine. She does not mean that she only prefers a limousine. However, a limousine in this case is used to mean something of value; better than a single rose. Limousine might even mean a bunch of roses rather than one rose. It shows that the narrator should be shown love by something that will please her and something that will match with the send message.

In these three poems, it is evident that love poems do not only describe love as something that everyone should wish to have. There are instances in which it will be bitter or sarcastic.




Auden, W. H. (n.d.). Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.Retrieved from

Browning, E. B. (1850). How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43).Retrieved from

Parker, D. (1973).One Perfect Rose.The Portable Dorothy Parker.Ed. Brendan Gill. NY: The Viking Press.