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Analysis of the Poem “Variations on the Word Love” Essay

The writer of the poem Margaret Atwood was born in November 18, 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She is not only a poet, but also a novelist, a literary critic, an essayist and an environmental activist. And she is an excellent writer, a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias award for Literature. Her genres of writing include historical fiction, speculative fiction, science fiction, and dystopian fiction.

The theme of the poem “Variations on the Word Love” by Margaret Atwood is that there is a wide range of types of love that are expressed differently. The poem mainly composes of two parts. Firstly, she explores the word “love” and how widely it is nowadays used. And secondly, Atood related her own personal experience about love. In the first stanza, Atwood described the commercial side of love, making “love” seem insignificant. An example would be one of her line: “for those red heart-shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing like real hearts.” This line shows that how commonly that the symbol of love is used in commercial ways, thus depreciating the value of love.

Later in the poem, Atood also described the patriotic feeling that soldiers in the battle fights upon in the line “they shout it. Love! Love! Sing the soldiers, raising their glittering knives in salute. This shows that there are other types of love exist beside the romantic ones. As well in the last stanza, Atood explored her relationship with her husband within the topic of the deep connection they shared with each other. Through the poem, Atwood had revealed several forms of love, and how love can take on different meanings. She portrayed the theme effectively through her outstanding writing.

Many poetic devices were used in the poem include enjambment, repetition, and imagery. Enjambment is used throughout the whole poem. For example, in the last line, Atwood used line breaks abruptly and meaningfully to emphasize the phrase “hold on or let go”. This invites the readers to focus on the struggles of love. Also, the poetic device, repetition is also used in the poem. The word “love” is repeated several times in line 11, 19, and 34. In line 23 and 24, “too” is also repeated. And in line 34, repetition is used through the word “again”. Some examples of imagery are used in this poem as well. Such as in line 19 and 20 of the poem, Atwood describes soldiers’ love for their country through a very vivid image “Love! Love! Sing the soldiers, raising their glittering knives in salute.” Another example would be in line 31 to 36 of the poem, the complicated feeling of love was described by Atwood as “It’s a single vowel in this metallic silence, a mouth that says O again and again in wonder and pain, a breath, a finger-grip on a cliffside.”

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