How does love change our lives? A discussion of various love poems

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.



Borough of Manhattan Community College
Cupid’s Arrow
How does love change our lives?
A discussion of various love poems
Questions, Writing Assignment, and Sample Paper
by Andrew Gottlieb
The writing assignment is on page 10.
Write about the following question: 
How does love change our lives?
La Vita Nuova Dante Alighieri
(A New Life)
Dante Alighieri
In that book which is
My memory…
On the first page
That is the chapter when
I first met you
Appear the words…
Here begins a new life
Francis William Bourdillon

THE NIGHT has a thousand eyes,
  And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
  With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,         5
  And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
  When love is done.

Sonnet 116
by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Sonnet 18
by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
She Walks in Beauty
by Lord Byron (George Gordon)
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Sonnet 130
by William Shakespeare
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
She Is Not Fair to Outward View
Hartley Coleridge

SHE is not fair to outward view
  As many maidens be;
Her loveliness I never knew
  Until she smiled on me.
O then I saw her eye was bright,         5
A well of love, a spring of light.
But now her looks are coy and cold,
  To mine they ne’er reply,
And yet I cease not to behold
  The love-light in her eye:         10
Her very frowns are fairer far
Than smiles of other maidens are.

When I Was One-and-Twenty
by A. E. Housman
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.
Writing Assignment:  Write about the following question:
How does love change our lives?  Make reference to at least three poems either in this handout or ones of your own choosing to support your point of view.
The paper must be 4 pages and satisfy all of the specifications and the format
on the following pages.
Sample Outline:
Part 1 – Introduction:
Write about love.  Make mention of the fact that love has been the topic of many poems.
Write about varying ideas of love in poetry.
Write about what you have learned from your exploration of love.

  1. Each essay must be stapled in the upper left-hand corner.

Papers that are not stapled will not be accepted.

  1. Each page of each essay must have typed page numbers in the upper right-hand corner.

Papers without typed page numbers in the upper right hand corner will not be accepted.

  1. Each essay must be typed. Essays that are not typed will not be accepted.
  2. Font size must be 12.
  3. Font style must be Times New Roman.
  4. Each paragraph must be indented.
  5. There must be no more than one double-space between paragraphs.
  6. The name of the student, professor, course, and date must be flush left with a double-space between each. See example on the following page.


  1. Each essay must be double-spaced.


  1. For citations more than one sentences, use the following specifications.

See example on page 9.

  1. single-space
  2. font size 10
  3. left indent at 1 right indent at 5.5.


  1. Quotation marks and the appropriate MLA citation for all quotes must be used. The absence of quotation marks where needed is PLAGIARISM.  See example of internal punctuation  on the following page. WARNING:  Omission of quotation marks is grounds for an F for the paper and possibly for the final grade.


  1. All sources used in the essay must be cited in a “Works Cited” page and be done according to MLA formats. See example on the page after the following page.

First Page
This is an example of the top of the first page of a paper.
Use double-spaces.  The title must be a double-space below the date and centered.
See MLA Handbook – Seventh Edition. 4.3. Heading And Title. 116.

John Smith
Professor Abraham
English 201
May 7, 2009
Greek Tragedy


              When citing a source in the text do as follows:  “Oedipus in the play is a free agent” (Fagles 149).
If you provide the name of the author in the sentence, you do not need to include it in the parenthetical citation.
Fagles maintains that “Oedipus in the play is a free agent” (149).
When paraphrasing do as follows:  Fagles maintains that Oedipus has free will (149).
When quoting without citing a non-published source, do as follows:   My father always said, “follow your heart.”

Internal Punctuation
Long Quotations
This is an example of how to do a citation longer than one sentence.

“In the very first year of our century Sigmund Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams offered a famous and influential interpretation of Oedipus the King:
Oedipus Rex is what is known as a tragedy of destiny.  Its tragic effect is said to lie in the contrast between supreme will of the gods and the vain attempts of mankind to escape the evil that threatens them.  The lesson which, it is said, the deeply moved spectator should learn from the tragedy is submission to the divine will and realization of his own impotence.
(Trans. James Strachey)
This passage is of course a landmark in the history of modern thought, and it is fascinating to observe that this idea, which, valid or not, has had enormous influence, stems from an attempt to answer a literary problem – why does the play have this overpowering effect on modern audiences?”
(Knox, Bernard. Sophocles – The Three Theban Plays. Translated by Robert Fagles. Penguin Books.  Copyright by Bernhard Knox, 1982. 132. Print.)

Works Cited Page
This is an example of the top of the first page of a works-cited list.
Entries are in alphabetical order with second lines of each entry indented (hanging indentation).
See MLA Handbook – Seventh Edition. 131.

Works Cited
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. Edited by Edward Hubler.
A Signet Classic. Copyright by Edward Hubler, 1963. Print.
Sophocles.  The Three Theban PlaysAntigone, Oedipus the King, Oeidipus at Colonus.
Translated By Robert  Fagles. Penguin Books. Copyright by Robert Fagles, 1982, 1984.  Print.

The Works Cited page must be on a separate page.
Andrew Gottlieb                                                                                                 SAMPLE PAPER
Professor Gottlieb
English 201-(section number)
January 15, 2016
Cupid’s Arrow
We have all heard of cupid and his arrow.  Once struck by the fatal dart, we are consumed by passions that in dire instances, lead to madness and acts of desperation.  Every rose has its thorn and the moth is drawn to the flame.  Thorn birds never learn.  Temptation overrides our better judgement and we continue to lower our shields to savor the fragrance of romance.  Our beloved wounds us time and time again, and still we love, and the more we love, the deeper is the wound.  Perhaps, it is our loneliness that overrides our fear.  The vacuum of a loveless life is more than we can bear and so, we who have loved and lost, throw ourselves, once again, into the fray, trying time and again to find that perfect love. How many songs and poems have been devoted to the “pangs of despised love” (Hamlet) is hard to say.  Every generation reiterates the same narrative.  It’s the same old song with a new melody.  In spite of all accounts of romantic turmoil, poets have persisted in a tradition of idealization.  Love is, after all, a transcendent, transformative adventure.  For those who have loved, life is never quite the same after.
Two poems that express love’s indelibility are Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nuova                (A New Life) and Francis William Bourdillon’s Light.
“In that book which is
My memory…
On the first page
That is the chapter when
I first met you
Appear the words…
Here begins a new life” (  ).
For Dante life is a birthplace, a new beginning.  The heart, like a flower, blossoms and one is forever transformed.  When love ends the reverse is true.  The “light of a whole life dies,” writes Bourdillon, “When love is done” (101).  Love is thus an awakening and a sustaining force.  It uplifts us.  It takes us to new and wonderful heights.  But Icarus fell to his death because he flew too high.  Romeo and Juliet would have lived longer had it not been for love.  The loss of love, the end of romance is for many, a kind of death.  The light is extinguished and the world grows cold and empty.  Joy is replaced by despair and life becomes meaningless.
In spite of the overwhelming risks entailed in romantic love, we tend to idealize it.            Or rather, we set a standard by which to gauge its genuineness.   One of the most eloquent expressions of this ideal is expressed in Shakespeare’s sonnet 116.  Here we are told that true love is unchangeable. We are told that for “true minds” love is eternal.  It is the “star to every wandering bark” (116).   No pain, no sorrow, no power in the universe can undermine the lover’s resolve.   Even the ravages of time and old age cannot diminish love, for love “is not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come.”  Love is eternal and, if this is not true, proclaims the poet, “I never writ, nor no man ever loved” (116).
By designating permanence as the touchstone by which one’s love may be gauged, he has placed romance above the vicissitudes of passion.  True love transcends the more ephemeral
emotions such as joy, anger, and fear.  How many of us can claim to have lived up to such a standard?  Shakespeare’s vision is lofty indeed and could well lead many of us to conclude that our love has been untrue or that the Immortal Bard, with all his eloquence, has narrated nothing more than a dreamy, delightful myth.  Surely, we who have loved and lost have known the pain that is accompanied with the realization that love, however true, however passionate, may fade.  It is said the only constant in the universe is change.  For Shakespeare, or at least as he portrays himself through sonnet 116, love is the exception.  It has been said that the notion of eternal love is rooted in the belief in reincarnation, that those who love have loved in other lives and will love again in future incarnations.  This is no doubt a most romantic idea concurrent with the notion of soul mate, one’s other half, and a match made in heaven.  These ideals are enticing but it is wise to keep in mind that the loftier your ideals the deeper is your pain when they have been compromised.  The agony of lost love may well be exacerbated by one’s faith in its ideal form.
Poets have not only idealized the idea of love; they have idealized the object of their love as well.  By means of metaphor, poets have placed their love on a pedestal.  In Sonnet 18, Shakespeare compares his lady to “a summer’s day,” proclaiming her to be “more lovely and more temperate” (38).    Unlike nature which is forever changing, her metaphorical summer “shall not fade.”  Her beauty is as eternal as the poet’s love and even death cannot diminish it.  The power of the poet’s verse has made his beloved immortal.  Rather than decay, she will continue to blossom through the vehicle of poetry.  “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee” (38).
The immortality of love is one with the immortality of the poet’s creation.  Imagination wins out against the colder truths of the material realm.  As in sonnet 116, Shakespeare has painted a beatific portrait of romance.  We may be well advised to keep in mind the proclamation of Theseus, one of Shakespeare’s characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:  “The lunatic,             the lover, and the poet/Are of imagination all compact” (Act v. scene1).  If Theseus is correct then perhaps we should take the loftiest of the poet’s proclamations with a grain of salt and be wary lest we fall prey to what invariable become the “pangs of despised love” (Hamlet, Act iii. scene 1).
Shakespeare is far from being the only poet who idealizes the object of romance.  In one of the most passionate poems of all time, She Walks in Beauty, Lord Byron likens his beloved to “cloudless climes and starry skies.”  His intensity of love is evident in every word: “…all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes” (577).  In the eyes of this lover, the lady is the very essence of perfection.  “One shade the more, one ray the less, had half impaired the nameless grace which waves in every raven tress…”   And though the poet is not psychic he can see the purity of his lady’s thoughts written on the loveliness of her face.  He seem bereft of all doubt that her mind is “at peace with all below” and that she is possessed of a heart “whose love is innocent.”  One wonders how long this lover has known the object of his affection and how long his vision of her perfection will endure the test of time.  Idealizing the one we love is tantalizing but dangerous, for one day, when the misty veil of romance lifts and the beatific visions fades, the charm of Cupid’s spell is supplanted by an agonizing nightmare.  It is then, perhaps, that the Shakespearean vision of true love is put to the test.
Not all poems idealize love.  There are those that evince a more sober sensibility.             In Sonnet 130, Shakespeare sees his love in the cool light of day.  Her eyes are “nothing like the sun” and “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.”  She is no goddess, angel, or sprite,  just a lady.  Nonetheless, his love is true and precious.  “And yet, by heaven,” concludes the poet, “I think my love as rare/As any she belied with false compare.”  In some respects, this man’s adoration is more impressive than that of the star struck lover.  There is something touching about a love independent of dreamy adoration.  Yet, at the same time, it is difficult to imagine any woman who would enjoy being told that “her breasts are dun” (150).    Flattery may be false but it is usually preferable and likely to be more effective than the reverse.  The notion that love need not be based on beauty but simply on heartfelt affection is noble.  The possibility of winning the heart of one’s beloved by likening her hair to black wires is remote.  The poem, nonetheless, has a certain charm and is most decidedly unique.
Another poem expressing a similar sentiment is Hartley Coleridges She Is Not Fair to Outward View.  The title speaks for itself.  The poet proclaim that he never knew the loveliness of his beloved until she smiled at him.  It was then he “saw her eye was bright,/A well of love, a spring of light. ” ( ).   Sadly, the lady does not return his love.  In spite of this, the lover is not daunted and even goes so far as to say that “Her very frowns are fairer far/Than smiles of other maidens are.”   This man’s love is based neither on beauty nor on the mutuality of affection.  His is the essence of unrequited love.  Those of us who have felt its sting, know that such love is likely to be short-lived.  Rejection may for a time act as passion’s catalyst, but in time erodes the lover’s weary heart.
It is evident from more than a few poems that love is not always a thing of joy forever.  One of the most famous poems expressing this sentiment is A.E. Housman’s When I Was One-and-Twenty. A wise man advises the poet to give his worldly possession away, but not his heart.  The young man naturally ignores the advice and one year later is faced with the painful realization of the terrible price of love. “’Tis paid with sighs a plenty/And sold for endless rue.”  This stands in contrast to Alfred Lord Tennyson (link is external)’s aphorism: “ ‘Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all” ( ).   Is love worth the pain it so often incurs?  It is up to each of us to answer the question in our own way.
Love, or rather romantic love, acts as a magnifying glass.  The heart beats quickly and the senses are heightened.  We are not quite ourselves.  Yet we opt for the adventure, however mad and painful it may be to the peace and loneliness of a life without it.  Is this because of a biological impulse programmed into our DNA to insure the propagation of our species?  If this were so, why not just stop at sex and be done with it?  Why all the proclamations of love, adoration, and devotion?  Why all the longing and lamentation.  Are we not more than hungry animals seeking to fulfil our cravings?  Are we not more than a belly seeking sustenance?       There is something within us that wants, that craves for something more, an elevation of mind and spirit.  We want to feel truly alive not only in our loins but in our soul.  Romantic love, in this respect, is a longing for something higher.  In the normal course of life, we may tend to live on the plain.  In love we climb the mountain and so, for that exhilarating time in which reason falls into disarray, we are most truly alive.  It is, perhaps, this awareness, this sensibility, that has throughout the centuries, fueled the engine of poetic inspiration.  If, as Aristotle teaches, our appreciation of the tragic is rooted in its cathartic effect, so too can we say that the poetization of love in both its agony and its ecstasy, liberates us not only from whatever pain we may have suffered but from the leaden weight of the mundane.
Works Cited
Bourdillon, Francis William. Among the Flowers and Other Poems.
London: Marcus Ward & Co., 67, 68, Chandos Stret and Royal Ulster Works, Belfast 1878.
Byron, George Gordon, Lord. She Walks in Beauty.  Major British Poets of the Romantic Period. Edited by William Heath. Amherst College. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York.
Coleridge, Hartley. She Is Not Fair to Outward View.
Housman, Alfred Edward. A Shropshire Lad and Other Poems: The Collected Poems of                 A. E. Houseman. Penguin Publishing Group. Publication date: 09/28/2010.
Shakespeare, William. The Sonnets. Edited by Douglas Bush and Alfred Harbage.
Penguin Books. Baltimore, Maryland. Copyright 1961 and 1970 by Penguin Books Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 79-98381.
Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., Publishers, 43, 45, & 47 East Tenth Street.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. Edited by Edward Hubler.
The Signet Classic Shakespeare. Copyright 1963 by Edward Hubler.
Your name
Course number and section
Name of your professor
Date of completion
Part 1 – Introduction:
Write about love.  Make mention of the fact that love has been the topic of many poems.
Write about varying ideas of love in poetry.
Write about what you have learned from your exploration of love.
Works Cited

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.





Posted in Uncategorized