Love in Poems

Lovein Poems

&nbsp&nbspThepoems,&quothomage to my hips by Clifton,&quot Cummings`s &quotShe beingBrand/-new,&quot Hardy`s &quotThe Workbox&quot, Whur`s &quotTheFirst-Rate Wife,&quot and Henley`s &quotWhen you Are Old&quot areall love poems. In addition, the four poems have some similarities inthe themes covered by the authors in regard to women. Furthermore,the tone used in the poems share some elements of similarities aswell as contrast. This essay focuses on the similarities anddifferences that exists between the five love poems tone and lovetopics.

Briefsummary of each poem

Clifton`s&quothomage to my hips,&quot

Inthis poem Lucille Clifton uses symbolism of ‘hips’ to illustratethe resilience of women towards social and political oppression. Byusing the phrase ‘hips’ the author appears to be referring to allfemales and is aimed to empower and actively champion women’srights. However, the author also praises the beauty in the women’ships, Clifton states, “thesehips are big hips,theyneed space to move around in. they don’t fit into petty places….these are free hips”(1-6). The overall message is that women need equal opportunity,unrestrained freedom and right to pursue their own happiness. Thewriter is cognizant that women too have power in relationships “Ihave known them to put a spell on a man and spin him like a top”(13-15). The overall tone used by the writer is persuasive albeitassertive to some extent.

Cummings`s&quotShebeing Brand/-new

Thewriter presents a metaphorical presentation of a sexual encounterwith a lovely woman. Although the poem falls under love, it issomehow a poem about lust as it is presented from a male’sperspective. In a way the writer compares the satisfaction derivedfrom women to that of an automobile. In a way, the writer presentswomen as a sexual object for personal joy, satisfaction and praisingher actions during love making. The writer has used a well controlledtone deliberately explaining the phases taken during love making.

&quotTheWorkbox&quot, Hardy Thomas

Thepoem refers to a kind of domestic sadness, deception or cruelty. Thewriter brings out the situation irony by presenting a sad husband anda deceptive wife. The husband suspects that there is another man inher wife earlier life. As such, since the husband seems interested inher wife, he seeks confession from her but the wife remains adamantlyquiet. The writer has used a sad tone laden with melancholy andsustained emotions of anger.

“TheFirst-Rate wife” by Cornelius Whur

Thepoem is about a young man who is in a mission to search for a perfectwife. However, to his dismay, he realizes that it is hard to get aperfect wife but a lovely maide. The maid fits well according to thefeatures of ideal wife desired but he cannot live long with a maidthan it would have been with a wife. In a way, the writer presentsthe man as a perfectionist who is looking for specific aspects in awoman. The writer uses a well controlled tone to demonstrate how theman needs to be in control of his situation.

Henley`s&quotWhen you Are Old”

Inthis piece of poem, the writer presents the speaker as be mourningand praising his lover when he will have departed and her love willbe old. The short poem illustrates a loving couple who lives togetherand cherishes the best times shared together. In this way, the writerpresents the couple as having lived a satisfactory life where eachpartner adored the other. The writers tone is melancholy, sad andfull of gratitude altitude.

Comparisonand contrast

Onesimilarity about the poems is that the writers present differentsituations of love life. On one part, then writers states that loveleads to joy, distress, trouble, dissatisfaction and embarrassment.The writers in the poems present the speakers in the poem as havinglove affection towards their partners and appreciate the power inwomen. For instance, the first poem by Clifton`s &quothomage to myhips, the speaker is in love with her partners ‘hips’ and findssatisfaction and joy in observing the ‘hips.’

Inthe poem, &quotThe First-Rate Wife,&quot the speaker is presentedas wondering where he can get an ideal wife the speaker isdissatisfied with women and sees the maid as having satisfyingfeatures than an ideal wife. The same sentiments are observed in thepoem, &quotWhen you Are Old&quot where the speaker is presented asfull of praise, adoration and longing for his partner long after heis dead. The speaker in the &quotShe being Brand/-new,&quot poemis seen as praising, satisfied and has joy for his ‘brand new’partner. In this poem by Cumming’s, there is similarity with otherpoems in that, the speakers is acknowledging the beauty and joyderived from their partners. However, the &quotThe Workbox&quotpoem by Hardy is different from other poems and the author is seen assad, dissatisfied and angry towards his untrustworthy wife.

Inthe poem, &quotThe Workbox&quot the speakers’ partner is nothingbut source of frustration, distress and embarrassment. Hardy`s poem&quotThe Workbox&quot is similar to Whur`s &quotThe First-RateWife,&quot poem in that the speakers seems to have a generaldistaste to women in their lives there is no joy and satisfaction intheir lives but distress and embarrassment.

TheTone as used in each poem

Poetsuse various tones to shape the attitudes in their poetry. The way apoet choses particular word helps to shape the readers attitudejudgment on participants and situations described in the poem. Inthis sense, poets utilize some elements of humor, similes, metaphorsand irony to bring out their tone. In the case of the above lovepoems, each poet has made attempts to evoke readers’ response andconclusion about the participants and situations described.

Whur’s“The First-Rate Wife”

Thespeaker in the Whur’s “The First-Rate Wife” poem has used awell controlled tone. In a way, the speaker appears to be talking toa friend explaining the ideals of a wife. The speaker explains thatmarrying a maid may not suffice the requirements of a wife. As such,the use of controlled tone helps to detail and describe the situationin which the speaker is somehow ‘advising’ a ‘friend’ on theideals of a good wife. The tone in the poem helps the reader make theconclusion that the ‘advised friend’ is confused and worried onwho to marry as an ideal wife. The poet, has used some elements of mentors and imagery to bring out this controlled tone, For instance,in stanza four line two the speaker says, ‘shouldhave some mental ray,”this statement is presented as a metaphor while advising the friendon ideals of a wife.

“Theworkbox” by Hardy

Inthe poem “The workbox” by Hardy, the poet has used extensiveirony and dramaturgy to illustrate the speakers confused state. Thespeaker is presented as unhappy, sad and dissatisfied by hisdeceptive wife. In the poem the lover presents his wife with a woodencoffin as a gift ostensibly illustrating his situation irony. In away, the speaker seems to be begging his wife to make some sort ofconfession and this helps the reader make out the sad tone used inthe poem. In stanza six line one and two, the speaker says, &quotButwhy do you look so white, my dear, and turn aside your face?The speaker is seen as frustrated but sad about his wife’sbehaviors. Throughout the poem, the poem has used a controlled tonefull sadness, frustration and endless irony.

“Homageto my Hips” by Clifton

Thepoem, “Homage to my Hips” by Clifton depicts a female speakerpraising and describing the power of women ‘hips.’ The speaker isseen as persuading the audience (possibly male chauvinists) that afemale body is not an object of pleasure and enslavement, rather the‘hips’ needs space and freedom to go wherever they want. The poemstarts with a persuasive tone and then progresses to assertive tone.The persuasive tone is directed to fellow women as an empowermentvoice to rise above their social oppression. The assertive tone isdirected to males chauvinists who think women are less in the social,political and economic sphere. For instance, the speaker says,“…these hips are free hips…they don’t like to be heldback…..these hips have never been enslaved…” The speakeralso uses various forms of praise on women ‘hips’ and this bringsout her raised tone to assert the power of women.

Cumming&quotShe being Brand/-new,&quot

Inthe &quotShe being Brand/-new,&quot poem, the speaker is presentedas praising her lovers’ body when making love to her. The speakerstone is well controlled low tone. The poet has presented the speakeras ‘musing’ to himself over the ‘brandy’ woman he has andthis helps bring out the tone as low and deliberative. It issatirical in the way the speaker compares her partner to a new carbut this satire helps to illustrate the controlled tone used in thesituation as the speaker muses to himself. The use of controlled tonein this poem helps the reader make conclusion on the attitude he hastowards the partner an attitude of satisfaction and joy.

‘Whenyou are old’ by Henley

Acontrolled tone is also used in the poem ‘when you are old’ byHenley. In the poem, the speaker appears to have some selfretrospection on the good times he will have had with his partner. Assuch, the tone used by the speaker is low and appear to be praisingand longing for his love. The use of controlled, retrospective tonehelps the reader connect with the speakers’ attitude towards hissituation and partner.


Thefive poems are love poems describing various situations of women andtheir lovers. However, there are some differences on how the poetshave presented love in some poems love is presented as causingdistress, satisfaction, joy and worry. The tone used in the poem issignificantly similar (use of controlled tone) but some poems such as“Homage to my hips” and “The Workbox” conveys assertive andcontrolled emotions tone. The use of controlled tone is one commonaspect applied in love poems to illustrate the speaker’s attitudetowards their partner or situations involved. The poets in the fivepoem use tone variation to help readers learn more about thesituations and individuals described in the poems.

Lovein the Poems


Briefsummary of each poem

  • Whur’s “The First-Rate Wife”

  • “The workbox” by Hardy

  • “Homage to my Hips” by Clifton

  • &quotShe being Brand/-new” by Cumming

  • ‘when you are old’ by Henley

Comparison(similarities and differences in the poem)


  • Whur’s “The First-Rate Wife”

  • “The workbox” by Hardy

  • “Homage to my Hips” by Clifton

  • &quotShe being Brand/-new” by Cumming

  • ‘when you are old’ by Henley


CliftonLucile, “Homage to my Hips.” Retrieved on 14 February 2015, from

Cummings,“She Being Brand” Retrieved on 14 February 2015, from

WhurCornelius, “The First-Rate Wife.” Retrieved on 14 February 2015,from

HardyThomas, “The Workbox.” Retrieved on 14 February 2015, from

HenleyWilliam, “When you are old.” Retrieved on 14 February 2015, from

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