The poem “Broken Love” is written by the English poet, painter and printmaker William Blake. He was born on 28 November in London 1757. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.
Broken Love by William Blake Analysis
Broken Love is a tale of a dark twisted love. It starts on a note of deep-felt regret of an unsuccessful lover. It goes on to portray the angst and the pain felt by the narrator. The opening lines “My spectre around me night and day/ Like a wild beast guards my way” implies that the narrator has lost his zest for life and is now merely a ghost living in a shell (his body). It also illustrates the guilt he feels upon his lover’s death. This guilt that he bears haunts him like a ghost every night and day. This guilt is the result of the sin that he committed. These lines create a tense environment arousing a feeling of apprehension in the reader’s mind.
The image of his lover is imprinted upon his mind and not a day goes by when he does not remember her. Love in this context has driven the narrator to the verge of insanity. He misses her presence and tells her that “My spectre follows thee behind”. This shows his unwillingness to let go of the fact that his lover is dead. He hopes that his lover shall return to him someday. He wishes to reunite with his lover for eternity. “Seven of my sweet loves thy knife/Has bereaved of their life” in these lines the overall tone of the poem shifts from mourning to guilt over a crime committed.
The narrator has murdered or deprived seven people of their lives, the last one including his lover. “Their marble tombs I built with tears/ And with cold and shuddering fears” these lines precisely portray the narrator’s state of mind at that point when he committed such a heinous crime. A murderer shall always be guilty and shall bear the most deadliest sin upon his soul. The narrator built their marble tombs with tears suggests that he had to murder them unwillingly and regrets having to kill them. The poem clearly depicts the picture of extreme paranoia and aloofness felt by the narrator. The poem then proceeds further down into the depths of the darkest despair. “Seven more loves weep night and day/ Round the tombs where my loves lay” This provides a peek into the darkest recesses of the narrator’s soul. In his imagination he finds the seven people that he killed surrounding the tomb of his lover and mourning her death.
The poem projects the vivid feeling of deep seeded pain and regret. “And seven more loves attend each night/ Around my couch with torches bright” this implies that he is haunted by the ghosts of those that he murdered. The narrator is not a cold-blooded murderer but he is a sinner regardless. Upon reading the poem the reader gets the idea that the narrator is not stable mentally. The depth of his love drove him to lunacy. It is a sad tale of an unrequited love for which seven lives had to be sacrificed. His sins haunt him night and day and he has to live with those sins.
We are familiar to the common notion that “All is fair in love and war” and on this basis the narrator justifies his deeds. In the end, he realizes that his effort was futile and it bore no fruit instead he lost the ‘love’ of his life through this lunacy. In his mind, the narrator still wants to have his lover only for himself. He does not wish to share her with anybody else. He wishes to never part with her. And even after death he shall become her grave where her body shall lay peacefully. This illustrates the earnest feeling in his heart but at the same time implies that he is possessive of her. His madness has led to the demise of the love of his life. His decision and the actions he took ruined him and scarred his soul for a lifetime.
He is an empty shell barely surviving on the thoughts of his lover. His flesh slowly eaten away by the guilt of the crimes he committed. He not only deprived himself of the love but he deprived seven innocent people of their lives. This guilt shall always haunt him for the rest of his life. The poem ends on a poignant note where the narrator is addressing his lover that in the end they shall both forgive each other and reunite their souls for eternity. The reader knows the fact that this is impossible but the narrator dreams regardless. He wants to find his lover and reunite with her upon his death.
Broken Love by William Blake Central Theme
The underlying theme of this poem, Broken Love is the idea of hope. It is with the hope of reuniting with his lover that the poet is still alive. It also deals with the theme of forgiveness. He forgives his lover for not reciprocating his love and he hopes that upon his death she shall forgive him too. It is a poignant tale of an unrequited love story where seven innocent people had to pay the price with their lives. The lover no doubt is earnest and his feelings are genuine but his deep seeded love drove him to lunacy. He calmly justifies killing seven people in the name of love. We also find that he is haunted by the consequences of his actions. The deep paranoia and the cold shudders mark the guilt he bears upon his soul. The seven sins he committed shall haunt him for the rest of his life. His efforts to possess his lover proved to be futile in the end. He mourns her loss everyday and wishes for her return. The endless ray of hope shines upon his heart and he wishes to reunite with his lover for eternity after his death.