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Theme = self-discovery
Love After Love by Derek Walcott Theme = self-discovery
SELF-DISCOVERY Walcott suggests that we spend years assuming an identity, but eventually discover who we really are – and this is like 2 different people meeting and making friends and sharing a meal together.
Love After Love Walcott presents this in terms of the love feast or Eucharist of the Christian church – “Eat…Give wine. Give bread.” It is not clear whether this other person is human or in some way divine.
Love After Love The poem begins with the forecast of the time when this recognition will occur – a moment of great happiness (“elation”) as “you…greet yourself” and “each will smile at the other’s welcome”. The second stanza suggests that one has to fit in with others’ ideas or accommodate oneself to the world and so become a stranger to oneself-but in time one will see who the stranger really is, and welcome him or her home.
Love After Love Our everyday life is seen as a kind of temporary disloyalty, in which one ignores oneself “for another” –but all along it is the true self, the stranger “who has loved you” and “who knows you by heart”. When this time comes, then one can recall and review one’s own life – look at the record of love-letters, photographs and notes, and what one sees in the mirror – and sit and feast on one’s life.
Love After Love The poem is written in the second person – as if the poet addresses the reader directly. It is full of imperative verbs (commands) “sit”, “give”, “eat”, “take” and “feast”.
Love After Love The poet repeats words or variants of them – “give”, “love”, “stranger” and “life”.
Love After Love The verse form is irregular but most lines are loosely iambic (a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in delay) and some (the 8th and 13th for e.g) are quite regular tetrameters (4 pairs of syllables).
Love After Love This is a very happy poem, especially in its view of the later years of life, not as a time of loss but of fulfillment and recovery.
Love After Love What do you think this poem means? Why does the poet imagine someone as being like two different people at the same time? How important is it for us to recognise what we are really like and accept ourselves for this? Why is the poem written to “you” rather than about “me”? Is the poet giving advice to everyone? Why does the poem use images of feasting?
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