What is an interpretation of Sir Walter Ralegh's poem "I have loved her all my youth"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this poem we can see that Sir Walter Raleigh makes an ironic comment on the nature of love as he relates that feeling to somebody that he has loved when he was young. The poem opens with his declarative statement that he had loved an unidentified woman throughout all of his youth. The word "but" clearly indicates a transition focusing on a contrary idea. He says that because he is now old, his perspective has changed. He justifies this change with the following explanation:

Love likes not the falling fruit
From the withered tree.

He goes on to build up this picture of love that casts it in rather an unfavourable light. We are told that love "is a careless child" who is blind to and forgets promises made in the past. He is inconstant and personfied as a blind and deaf boy when he wants to be. The poem thus deals with the inconstancy of emotions such as love and how, although both we and the person that we love may assume that love is something that is permanent, in fact it very rarely is.



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