Love After Love

Love After Love

By Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Summary of Love after Love

  • Popularity of “Love after Love”: “Love after Love” by Derek Walcott, a famous Saint Lucian poet and writer, is a unique descriptive poetic piece. It first appeared in his book, Sea Grapes, in 1976. Since then, it has become a favorite choice for workshop leaders and self-work groups who use it as a model for those who have lost track of their lives. The superb expression of the writer and his optimistic tone help people regain their lost confidence as well as self-esteem.
  • “Love after Love” As a Representative of Self Love: This unusual poem concentrates on loving the inner self, following a traumatic incident in someone’s life.It begins with a positive note as the poet assures his audience that a time in their life will come when they love to greet themselves happily. They will become aware of the need for self-love and an optimistic approach. Each time they get home and see themselves in the mirror, they find something new and exciting about themselves. They may even start talking to themselves again. This act of communication will surely lead them to have a fresh and vital start in life. This art of self-recognition will not only give them confidence but will also end their heartache and estrangement. However, to reach this ultimate position, they have to eliminate memories that haunt them day and night.
  • Major Themes in “Love after Love”: Loving the inner self, the role of an optimistic approach in one’s life, and a new beginning are the major themes of the poem. This short yet beautiful poem urges you to need self-love and confidence. To support this idea, the speaker states how we can do that and what positive changes this approach will bring to our lives. Using a gentle, conciliatory, and instructive tone, the poet reassures the readers that once they willingly accept themselves as they are, they may come out of the experiences that stole the absolute joy of their lives. Surprisingly, the poet does not prefer using any theoretical approach to project his ideas. Instead, he urges them to bring these positive changes while recognizing the basic instincts like eating, drinking, and spending time with themselves. He believes that these small acts lead them to a place where they become unshakeable by any challenging situation.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Love after Love”

literary devices are tools that can give variety and deeper meanings to simple poetic pieces. Derek Walcott has used various literary devices in the 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/ and /o/ in “You will love again the stranger who was yourself” and the sound of /o/ in “for another, who knows you by heart.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /t/ in “The time will come” and /g/ sound in “Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “at your own door, in your own mirror” and the sound of /t/ in “Take down the love letters from the bookshelf.”
  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;

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.”

  1. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning. The writer has used this device in the opening stanza of the poem while talking about self-recognition such as “You will love again the stranger who was yourself.”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Derek Walcott has used imagery in this poem such as “Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart”, “peel your own image from the mirror” and “and each will smile at the other’s welcome.”
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poem shows the use of extended metaphors of love, happiness, and realization.
  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 the symbols of loving the inner self as the signs of peace and prosperity.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Love after Love”

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 poems.

  1. Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction having metaphors.
  2. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  3. Tercet: A tercet is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Biblical Hebrew poetry. Here, the second and third stanzas are tercets.
  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each comprising a different number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

These lines are useful to use while talking about the uniqueness everyone possesses. It can be used in motivational speeches to spread awareness about self-confidence and self-appraisal.

“You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you.”

 

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