Passion in Literature: March 13 (Sentimentality in Love Poetry)

Must love poems in some way exhibit the attributes of sentimentality. The vast majority of poems on this list were meant to rise in the reader some sort of simple emotion, whether it be sorrow, desire, or even lust. I believe one of the most sentimental poems to be When We Two Parted, a piece by George Gordon, Lord Byron that evokes sadness and sympathy.

According to Mr. MacKnight, in the handout “Melodrama and Sentimentality,” sentimentality is the “indulgence of easy emotions,” and often includes “vague, flowery, and ‘poetic'” diction and imagery and rhythms that are “very regular.” When We Two Parted demonstrates both of these qualities.

The writer uses “poetic” imagery that creates vague and disconnected illustrations of sorrowful scenes in the reader’s mind. For instance, the lines “They name thee before me, / A knell to mine ear;” (ll. 17-18) brings to the head the image of ringing funeral bells, and the lines “When we two parted / In silence and tears,” (ll. 1-2) evokes the all too iconic image of a tearful breakup. Diction in the poem is similarly flowery and emotion-provoking, with nearly each line furthering the depressing tone. The writer chooses words carefully to ensure that each has the most negative connotation possible. For example, the line “A knell to mine ear;” (l. 17) could easily have “bell” substituted for “knell,” but the word “knell” was chosen instead, because it brings with it the mood of a funeral.

The rhymes of the poem are very regular, and almost song-like. A consistent ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme is followed throughout each of the four stanzas. The passionate sorrow of the poem is expressed in the irregular rhythm, with the length, stressing of syllables, and patterns all differing in each stanza. This combination of song-like rhymes and irregular rhythm creates a perfect “poetic” depression in the poem.

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3 thoughts on “Passion in Literature: March 13 (Sentimentality in Love Poetry)”

  1. Hi Fenna. I think the way you described in such detail fragments of the poem is great. I enjoyed your very first paragraph. I can agree with you in the first sentence you wrote.

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  2. Fenna,
    Your writing is very strong, it can be hard to find an era. I like that you include specific cases and quotations from the text. I appreciate that you started with a strong assertation. Very impactful and well thought out writing.

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