Love Songs, Love Poems

Robert Burns (1759-96), a popular poet from Scotland, lives again each January 25th, when millions around the world celebrate his poetry. In his poetry, Burns expresses his concern for people of the working class. He is also one of the first poets to question the treatment of women and children in society. Robbie Burns is best remembered for his love poetry. The following selection is one of his better-known ballads.

A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns

O my luve is like a red, red rose
   That's newly sprung in June;
My love is like the melodie
   That's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonny lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love!
   And fare thee weel, awhile!
And I will come again, my love
   Though it were ten thousand mile.

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-94) is a well-known poet of the Victorian period. She was acclaimed for her poetic skill and distinctive style. Some recurrent themes in her poetry are of unhappy, delayed, or frustrated love. “A Birthday,” one of her best known poems, has a more positive theme.

A Birthday by Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
   Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
   Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
   That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
   Because my love is come to me.
 
Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
   Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
   And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
   In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
   Is come, my love is come to me.
  1. Burns and Rossetti both use a common literary technique, the metaphor, to describe feelings of love. Identify and discuss the similarities and the differences between the two poems.
  2. What effect does the repetition of the phrases create in the poems? Do you like the effect that is created? Why or why not?
  3. Choose your own personal metaphor for describing love. Write a poem, song, or short narrative or create a collage of images which incorporates your metaphor for love.

Example

If one of these traditional or popular sayings expresses an important lesson you have learned about life, illustrate it in an essay developed through extensive use of example. (See also the guidelines that follow.)
1. Experience is the best teacher.
2. Money cannot buy happiness.
3. The best defence is a good offence.
4. You have to like yourself before you can like others.
5. Practice makes perfect.
6. True wealth is measured by what you can do without.
7. If you try to please the world, you will never please yourself.
8. Time is money.
9. Virtue is its own reward.
10. No pain, no gain.
11. Beauty is only skin-deep.
12. Money is the root of all evil.
13. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
14. The more you have, the more you want.
15. Love is blind.

If your answer to one if the following is based on strong experience, support it in an
essay developed through extensive use of example. (See also the guidelines that follow.)
16. The (best/worst) program on television is _______________.
17. _______________ is the best book I’ve ever read.
18. The (best/worst) spectator sport of all is _______________.
19. One kind of music I really detest is _______________.
20. _______________ is the (best/worst) restaurant I’ve ever tried.
21. My favourite newspaper is _______________.
22. _______________ is the most practical computer for my needs.
23. My favourite musician is _______________.
24. The very (best/worst) film I have ever seen is _______________.
25. _______________ is my favourite holiday spot.
26. _______________ is my best subject this term.
27. The radio station I prefer is _______________.
28. _______________ is the best teacher I’ve ever had.
29. The political leader I most admire is _______________.
30. _______________ is my favourite city.

Process in Writing: Guidelines
Follow at least some ojthese steps in developing your essay through examples (your teacher may suggest which ones).
1. Choose a topic you think you like, and try it out through brainstorming or freewriting. Do you have something to say? Can you supply examples? If not, try another topic.

2. Visualize your audience: What level of language, what TONE, what examples, will communicate with this person or persons?

3. Do a rapid “discovery draft,” leave extra white-space. Do not stop now to fix things like spelling and grammar; just get the material down with pen or keyboard.

4. The next day, look this draft over. Are there enough examples? Or: Is your one long example explained in depth? If not, add more. Does each example support your main point? If not, revise. Are examples in order of increasing importance? If not, consider rearranging to build a climax.

5. Check your second draft for TRANSITIONS, and add if necessary. Test your prose by reading aloud, then revise awkward or unclear passages. Now reach for the dictionary and a grammar book(buttons, menus or tools) if you need them.

6. Proofread your final copy slowly, word by word (if your eyes move too fast, they will “see” what should be there, not necessarily what is there).

The Grandchildren That Never Where

It is the year 2100. In the year 2090, World War III began. In the year 2095, a biological weapon that destroys the human immune system only was released and used by both sides in the war. As a result, human beings have become extinct. The beautiful parks that the people of the early 21st century worked so hard to build and protect are now enjoyed by no one but the squirrels and birds that live there. At the entrance of the biggest, most beautiful park of all, there is a golden plaque that reads as follows: “This park is dedicated with love to our future grandchildren. We worked very hard and made many sacrifices, knowing that you would one day appreciate having this green space to enjoy.” Of course, the “future grandchildren” referred to in this plaque were never born, because there parents all died in World War III. Was it still worth the effort? Should the people of the 21st century have put there effort toward preventing WWIII instead? Should we be thinking about our future grandchildren now?

Life in Our Village

“Life in Our Village” by Matei Markwei is an easily understood, childlike , loosely rhyming poem, that expresses a universal truth about youthful love.

Discussion Questions:

Theme:
What is the universal truth in “Life in Our Village”?

  • Boys and girls will do what comes naturally; love cannot be forbidden or exiled.

Technique:
What techniques does the poet use to articulate this theme?(give examples)

  • repetition
  • understatement
  • parallel structure

Issues:
Can adults forbid love from blossoming in the young?

Is humanity weak?

Is it strong to resist love?

To what extent do you see similarities between the attitudes and behaviours expressed in this poem, and those with which you are personally familiar?

What do you like about this poem?

What do you dislike?

“Life in Our Village” by Matei Markwei
In our village
When elders are around,
Boys must not look at girls
And Girls must not look at boys
Because the elder say
That is not good.

Even when night comes
Boys must play separately,
Girls must play separately.
But humanity is weak
So boys and girls meet.

The boys play hide and seek
And the girls play hide and seek.
The boys know where the girls hide
And the girls know where the boys hide –
So in their hide and seek,
Boys seek girls
Girls seek boys,
And each to each sing
Songs of love.