Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Our Love Now

There's already plenty of really interesting comments about the layout and language of this poem in the original post from February here.

Some additional thoughts:

The man's language is very much focused on renewal and repair, such as "the wound heals" and "it will soon be gone". This language suggests in part that he wants to fix their relationship. However, if we look deeper, we can see that he is a flawed character. First of all, he speaks in imperatives, such as "observe", "remember" and "listen". On the one hand, this can show his desperation to be listened to and to make things right, but on the other hand, it could show his need for control, such like the Duke in 'My Last Duchess' or the speaker in 'Song For Last Year's Wife'.

Furthermore, the fact that he says "the red burnt flesh... can be hidden" suggests that he does not really want to fix their relationship, but to ignore the cracks in it. The colour imagery of "red burnt flesh" has connotations of anger, rawness and pain, but the speaker does not seem to want to soothe this. Again, "people will forget it ever existed" suggests that the man's solution is to ignore the problem until it fades in their memories.

On the other hand, the female speaker uses the language of permanence, suggesting that the damage to their relationship can never be repaired. She speaks of "a permanent reminder", "a numbness prevails" and "forever dead". This final phrase is the key indicator at the end of the poem that the woman has made up her mind and is ending their relationship.

The image of the "bleached" skin is quite a telling one. I remember accidentally bleaching my mother's towels as a teenager and her shrieking at me that they were 'ruined'. Bleach not only removes the colour from fabrics, which is impossible to re-dye without looking obvious (sorry, mum), but it is used as a cleaning product to kill bacteria and germs. Therefore, the idea that it kills and damages life is key in understanding how their relationship is viewed. The loss of colour also suggests that the fun and vibrancy has disappeared from their relationship.

Throughout the poem, the woman rationally counter-argues the men's points, thus suggesting that she is the reasonable one in the relationship. She tries to rein in his unblinking belief that they can survive whilst appealing to his sense of logic. There is a sense of contradiction throughout, for example when the man says "the hair grows - before long / it is always the same" the woman replies "it grows again slowly". This subtle detail shows how she is gently coercing him into facing reality through slight contradictions of his ideas.

At the end of the poem, she changes her repetition of "such is our love now", which describes the state of their relationship after the "breach" to "such is our love". This comes immediately after "The tree is forever dead", thus suggesting that there is no longer a current state of their love and it is a thing of the past to be grieved, but never resurrected.

Hopefully, that makes the poem clearer.
Get a good rest and don't stay up too late revising!

Miss D


  1. The structure is 6 lines in each of the 8 stanzas, the gap between the man and the woman Stanza's represent the gap/ rift between them. The mans stanza's always start with imperatives, also there is a lot of enjambment which could represent his feelings are not yet closed off/ have been left unheard of.

    By Chanté, Bryony and Cierra.

  2. Could the enjambement also show that he refuses to pause and let her get a word in?