I Do Not Love Thee

I Do Not Love Thee

By Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.
I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.

Summary of I Do Not Love Thee

  • Popularity of “I Do Not Love Thee”: “I Do Not Love Thee” by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton, an early popular Victorian love poet, is a beautiful love poem. It is unclear when the poem appeared, though, the poet certainly wrote it in the early years of her career. The poem sheds light on the poet’s resolve to show an indifferent attitude despite having an inner interest in her lover. The uniqueness of the poem lies in its subtle expression of contradictory thoughts.
  • I Do Not Love Thee” As a Representative of Love: The poet starts the poem with a pet sentence “I do not love thee” which she repeats at the beginning of every stanza. This becomes a refrain of this poem so much so that the final response of the poet that she knows comes in handy to save the readers as they expect her to continue. She states that she does not love her lover, yet she feels that she is sad without him and that she envies the skies that see him. She also states that she often sighs in her love in her solitude. She states that she feels discomfort in the beautiful music when her lover is not present. She also states that she feels the absence of his deep and blue eyes and above all, she feels neglected. In the final stanza, she states that even the other people do not trust her whether she loves him or not. It is because they always find the poet looking at the place where her lover is.
  • Major Themes in “I Do Not Love Thee.” Love, feelings of sadness, and confusion are three major themes of the poem. Although the poet clearly states that she does not love her lover, yet she feels that she loves him, and this is not limited to her feelings only. Even others feel that she loves her lover. Although she is feeling sad at this change of her heart and is even confused, people see that she is looking at her lover and that she only loves him. Therefore, this confusion ends in her mind that she does not love him. In other words, it means that social acceptance of her love makes her certain that she loves him.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used In “I Do Not Love Thee”

literary devices are literary tools that bring variety into simple poetic pieces. Caroline Elizabeth has also used some literary devices in this poem whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “And envy even the bright blue sky above thee” the sound of /o/ in “Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me” and the sound of /a/ in “And yet when thou art absent I am sad.”
  2. Alliteration: It means the use of consonant sounds in the initials letters of two words occurring close to each other such as the sound of /b/ in “bright blue”, and the sound of /s/ in “seems still.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /t/ and /n/ in “And yet when thou art absent I am sad”, the sound of /d/ and /t/ in “Others will scarcely trust my candid heart” and the sound of /n/ in “Between me and the midnight heaven arise.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

  1. Exclamation: The poem shows the use of exclamation in the first line of every stanza such as “I do not love thee! And “I know I do not love thee!”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton has used imagery in this poem such as “And yet when thou art absent I am said”, “Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone” and “Between me and the midnight heaven arise”
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used an extended metaphor of love to show her confusion.
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of symbols such as blue sky, stars, tone, music, and voice to show the love of the poet.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “I Do Not Love Thee”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme in all of its five stanzas.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are five stanzas in this poem with each having four verses.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “I Do Not Love Thee” are appropriate to use when showing love for somebody.

I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.