In this essay I will explore ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’, ‘Meeting At Night’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. In ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’ Burns uses a variety of devices to create imagery of a perfect and timeless love. He uses a simile in the first stanza,’My love is like the melodieThat’s sweetly played in tune.’Playing on the fact that music is tied closely to our emotions, and that a beautiful melody bypasses the mind and travels straight to the heart, Burns links this feeling to love.
The rhythm of the poem is upbeat and bouncy, full of energy making his message come across clear and strong, like his love. The rhythm of ‘Meeting At Night’ is also upbeat but it represents gathering anticipation like a quickening heartbeat instead of a steady but bouncy rhythm. It increases in tempo instead of staying continuously up-tempo. Burns uses the senses in ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’ to capture feelings in the words.
By using ‘Red, Red Rose’, nearly all of our senses become engaged, especially that of sight. By repeating ‘red’, Burns draws attention to the colour of the rose. Red symbolises a love that is romantic and sensual, the deeper the red, the more love and so by emphasising the colour Burns tells us how deep and true his love is. The rose itself represents a natural beauty and perfection that can be found within his love and in her.It awakens our senses to the smell of the rose and its sensual feel, again a representation of his love. In the poem, the senses allow the reader to empathise with a feeling of security and timelessness which his love gives, and although the senses are also used in ‘Meeting At Night’, they are used in a different way. They build up suspense and uncertainty by using long vowel sounds and vague senses.
Burns also uses possessive phrases such as ‘my bonny lass’ or ‘my dear’ twice in all of the stanzas, apart from the first, when referring to her. These phrases imply that he thinks of her as his own, however this possession is positive, loving and caring unlike in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. The possession is negative and destructive, adding to the man’s psychosis. Burns also makes full use of universal images,’Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dearAnd the rocks melt wi’ the sun’These represent love as being for everyone and being everywhere. They also give the reader a feel for the timelessness of his love which will go on for longer than anything else, even when nature’s lifecycle ends.
The first stanza of the poem,’My love is like a red, red, roseThat’s newly sprung in June’This symbolises that his love will never change and that he will love her forever as though their love was new. He says that his love will be unaffected by time and will always be pure and true to her.’And I will come again, my dearTho’ it were ten thousand mile.’These are the last lines of the poem and close the message of love by stating that space cannot keep them apart.
Again we see positive possession and another difference to ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. Burns’ love is emotionally stable where in the other poem it is not. Burns means that he has such faith and trust in their love that he has no fear or insecurity of being parted from her, because he knows that nothing will keep them away from each other. In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, the man has no emotional stability and feels that he must kill his lover to stop her leaving him and to preserve the moment.
This is a distinct dissimilarity between the two loves, one being pure and secure and the other being twisted and fearful.My second poem is ‘Meeting At Night’ by Robert Browning. The scene is set using pathetic fallacy and by describing the landscape.’The grey sea and the long black land’This is powerful description because it creates an image of a moonlit night in the readers mind. It also incorporates symbolism as the moon is often related to romantics and lovers. The image Browning describes is dark, not only literally but also emotionally. However, this dark is completely different to ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. It is a dark of the unknown, mystery and of security for the lovers.
In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the dark is turned into a monster, forbidding and uninviting. Instead of being a safe blackness, it is more the absolute absence of light and with that the lack of anything good or pure.In ‘Meeting At Night’, Browning uses the first stanza as a build up of atmosphere. He stars with long vowels sounds which stretch out the lines and then moves into shorter ones to pick up the pace. This builds the suspense and the dark helps to increase the growing restlessness and latent energy. Then with the use of some up-tempo metaphors, Browning brings the stanza to a close in anticipation for the climax sure to come in the second stanza. This is representative of the type of love used in ‘Meeting At Night’ because it is an exciting but secretive love.’In fiery ringlets from their sleep’This describes the waves, but is also a symbolism of love and its many obstacles.
The significance after this line is that the lover makes the shore and therefore overcomes the impediments in the way of love. All through the poem, Browning plays heavily on the senses to draw the reader in and make empathy easier. He uses sounds to make the poem realistic and to tie it to our emotions, allowing us to draw links between the sound and the lovers.’A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch’This line uses two completely different onomatopoeic sounds, the tap being tentative and secretive, as is the love, and the scratch being more urgent as the love and poem are brought to the climax.’A voice less loud…
.Two hearts beating’The use of a voice less loud, gives the picture of intimate lovers whispering and murmurings as they finally meets and the hearts symbolise their love being joined together and their merging into one. This is representing their love too, which has progressed from calm and secretive to a culmination of ecstasy and fulfilment. Browning engages taste when he describes the sea and smell through the sea-side scents.
He links loosely to sight, although apart from setting the scene, it hardly makes an impact. Just as the first stanza suggests an awakening, the second brings a climax and an expression of deep true love which can only be found by taking risks.The love in this poem is still pure and untouched, much like ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’. These two poems also uses senses as a gateway to emotions and their aims are similar in that they both strive to achieve perfect love. ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ becomes the odd one out, as its love does not need perfection and is a completely different view of love and what is does to people. ‘Meeting At Night’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ both use nature in their descriptions; however the ‘Meeting At Night’ portrays the delicate beauty of nature whereas ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ takes the destructive and dark power of nature in a storm.My third and last poem is ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, also written by Robert Browning.
In this, Browning uses many techniques the foremost I feel to be iambic pentameter. By using this rhythm, which is close to natural speech, the poem becomes more realistic and makes it easier to get involved with the poem. It also gives it a serious edge which, with the setting, makes the words much more disturbing and believable. Browning uses the man in this poem to personify the dark and destructive love which the poem is based around. This is crucial, because by using a person, Browning again makes it easier to empathise with the feelings that are brought out in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. To being the poem Browning uses prophetic fallacy to set the scene. This technique is also used in ‘Meeting At Night’, however the differences are obvious.
‘Porphyria’s Lover’ uses words which produce pictures of a storm, symbolising a darker and more foreboding beginning.’The sullen wind was soon awake,It tore the elm tops down for spite’In ‘Meeting At Night’, Browning completely changes the atmosphere by using prophetic fallacy to describe a mysterious but secure setting.With this opening, the type of love is identified straightaway.In ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the storm shows the reader a dark and destructive love, it also symbolises the turmoil and mental instability which resides inside the man’s mind. The initial scene is that of suspense, a devise her used to draw the reader in. Porphyria herself is like a tranquiliser to him.
He feels she makes his life worth living and again the weather is used for effect. When she enters, she shuts out the cold and storm inside his head. There is a change of mood here, as the man withdraws from any emotional connection to Porphyria. This is further emphasised in the following lines where Porphyria must take the initiative, whilst he continues to ignore her.’She put my arm about her waist,And made her smooth white shoulder bare’Mild eroticism is expressed in these lines and this seems to strike something in him. And as she talks to him, he criticises her for not giving herself to him completely. Even thought she has enveloped him with her love, symbolised by her closeness and by her envelopment of him with her hair. Another change of mood occurs when Porphyria’s lover looks up at her and thinks he sees idolatry for him in her eyes.
To emphasis the following progression from neurosis to psychosis Browning uses repetition of the word ‘mine’. It stresses the man’s negative possessiveness and obsession of Porphyria.’Perfectly pure and good: I foundA thing to do, and all her hair….
Three times her little throat around’These lines emphasise his psychosis as he no longer sees her as a human being but an angel and therefore feels the need to preserve her in the moment. Now Browning comes to a climax in the poem, in an emotional panic Porphyria is killed but the man feels no guilt. He believes this is what she wanted, preservation of her perfect love for him.This love is all about selfishness; he wants Porphyria all to himself but doesn’t believe their love is true. To make it perfect in his eyes she would die for him, and so he kills her, tying her to him forever. He doesn’t need her to speak, just needs to have her there because she keeps him in an emotionally stable state; this is part of true love. However, by killing her so she cannot leave him, the image of true love is distorted.
Unlike ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’ where the love will always return because it is eternal. ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is eternal in death but not in joy as in ‘My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose’. ‘Meeting At Night’ is also completely dissimilar in its love to ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ because their love is mutually intense instead of being obsessive on one side.Many similar techniques are used in the three poems, but they are used so differently that their meanings change completely.
I prefer ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ because the sinister love appeals more than the traditional; it is more intriguing how Browning gets in to the mind of a psychotic and transfers feelings to words. The others poems are too conventional and Browning does a good job of showing the different darker side of the fairytale concept of love.