Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

"Love Not" Formal Description

     (1)Love not! love not! ye hapless sons of clay,
          Hope’s gayest wreaths are made of earthly flowers:
          Things that are made to fade and fall away
          Ere they have blossomed for a few short hours. Love not! love not!

     (5)Love not! love not! the thing you love pray die,
          May perish from the gay and gladsome earth—
          The silent, stars. the blue and smiling sky,
          Beam on its grave, as once upon its birth. Love not! love not!

     (9)Love not! love not! The thing you love may change,
          The rosy lips may cease to smile on you;
          The kindly beaming, eye grow cold and strange,
          The heart still warmly beat yet not be true. Love not! love not!

     (13)Love not! love not! O warning vainly said:
          In present hours as in years gone by
          Love flings a halo round the dear one’s head,
          Faultless, immortal, till they change or die. Love not! love not!

     This transcription of Caroline Norton’s poem “Love Not” differs from many official versions in that each stanza is four lines instead of five. Because of this alteration, Lucas’ copy consists of four quatrains, or four lines of ABAB rhyme. Lucas places the final phrase “Love not! love not!” at the end of each stanza’s fourth line, making the actual rhyme scheme of the poem ABAB(C) / DEDE(C) / FGFG(C) / HIHI(C) (where (C) is “Love not! love not!” written next to the actual end rhyme).

     Almost all of “Love Not” is in iambic pentameter; that is, each line consists of a series of five unstressed-stressed phrases (e.g. “Love not! love not! ye hapless sons of clay,” where the italics represent stressed syllables, line1). The exception to the iambic pentameter is the final line in each stanza, in which Lucas adds the extra “Love not! love not!” phrase. For this, the final line in each stanza is in iambic heptameter.  

     The poem also takes form in syllabic verse, meaning each stanza has an equal amount of syllables per line. This type of verse gives “Love Not” both visual and aural symmetry. Also, because of its brevity, concentration on a single idea, and consistent voice, “Love Not” is a lyric poem.

     In terms of internal style, “Love Not” employs repetition of the title phrase at the beginning and end of each stanza. Within the bodies of the stanzas, the poem uses proper syntax and flips between voiced consonant phrases and phrases with softer, unvoiced, consonance (e.g. "The thing you love may change / The rosy lips may cease to smile on you," lines 9-10). Norton also writes with several literary techniques such as synecdoche (e.g. “The rosy lips cease to smile on you,” line 10) and personification (e.g. “Love flings a halo round the dear one’s head,” line 15).

     “Love Not” does not include any enjambment (the continuation of a single, unbroken phrase to the next line), and it certainly does not use any cliché phrases. 

     Back to "Love Not" main page