Could It Be Love?

The two following poems express different attitudes toward love. The first poem, “How do I Love Thee?,” was written in the nineteenth century and the second one, “First Person Demonstrative” was written in the twentieth century.

"How do I love thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
"First Person Demonstrative" by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-2009)
I'd rather
heave half a brick than say
I love you, though I do
I'd rather
crawl in a hole than call you
darling, though you are
I'd rather
wrench off an arm than hug you though
it's what I long to do
I'd rather
gather a posy of poison ivy than
ask if you love me

so if my
hair doesn't stand on end it's because
I never tease it
and if my
heart isn't in my mouth it's because
it knows its place
and if I
don't take a bite of your ear it's because
gristle gripes my guts
and if you
miss the message better get new
glasses and read it twice
  1. How did you feel after reading “How Do I Love Thee?” How did you feel after reading “First Person Demonstrative”? Which poem do you like better? Why? Which do you think is the more appealing poem?
  2. Compare the thoughts and feelings of the two poets. How do the poems differ? How are they similar? Does this comparison change your feelings toward either of the poems?
Picasso: The Two Saltimbanques

Picasso: The Two Saltimbanques

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Original post by Mr. D. Sader

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