Please explain the poem "Porphyria's Lover" stanza by stanza.

Expert Answers
troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first five lines it describes the rainy weather outside.  The wind picks up as well, and this sets the tone for the poem. The next 10 lines describe her coming inside and warming by the fire.  It also shows that she's soaked and cold from the weather outside. She then calls to him and he won't reply.  She takes his hand and wraps it around her waist and had his head placed on her bare shoulder, telling him quietly how much she loved him.

The next few lines explain his perception of her--which is very different from what we expected.  He describes her as "too weak, for all her heart's endeavor to set its struggling passion free from pride" as if she cannot handle loving him and cannot completely commit to only him. 

Once he knew at this point that she "worshipped" him, he grabbed her hair (lines 38-41) and strangled her with it. Even more disturbing is his reaction to that: he opens her eyes and kisses her cheek, then props her head on his shoulder and sits there with her through the night.  He does this thinking that it was the right thing to do since God did and said nothing about his actions. 

So he did this to preserve the special love that they had forever.  He knew it would never last, so he took her life so that their "moment' would be theirs forever. 


user1054793 | Student

what  passes of love in the  mind of the speaker?


subrataray | Student

- It was a stormy night. Porphyria’s lover was waiting in his room. He was picturing the unexpected presence of Porphyria, who was separated from him for her higher social rank and status. The lover was watching the fury and violence of the storm that tore down the tops of elm-tree and ruffled the water of the lake. He was feeling lonely. Just then Porphyria stepped into his cottage and it was a great surprise to the lover.

Entering into the lover’s cottage Porphyria shut the door to prevent cold and storm. Immediately after this, she kindled the dying fire and made the cottage warm. She then took off her dripping cloak, shawl, hat and gloves and came by the side of her lover. She let the lover embrace around her waist. The lover, even then did not speak a single word. To arrest the lover’s attention in her passionate love, she made her white shoulder bare and laced the lover’s cheek on it. To stir the lover’s mood she spread her golden hair over her shoulder. Amidst such countenance of her lover, she in a low but sweet voice told how darling she loved the lover. She also confessed that she was really weak to throw away the social barriers like, her high rank and the authority of her guardians that stood as an insurmountable bar.

At such submission, the lover felt joy and pride. He knew how ardent and sincere Porphyria’s love for him was. In such state of ecstasy a plan of action peeped into his head. The very moment proved itself eternity. Porphyria’s complete submission in one hand, and on the other, her charming disposition and visional innocence, led the cover stamp them on time. Once again Porphyria’s love for him was thwarted by the social barriers. He wanted to make it free. So, the lover decided and executed his plan by starling her to death with a string of her hair. It seemed that Porphyria felt no pain; rather she looked as quiet a bee in bud. The lover opened her eye-lids and found her eyes laughing without a stain. The lover, then, untightened the tresses from her neck and even then, her cheeks blushed bright in the lover’s kiss. He lifted her head, she was dead. In dead Porphyria, the lover read a sense of smile that indicated the fulfillment of the ladylove’s last hope, which was – a death in the lover’s lap and a union of two souls.

The lover sat the whole night keeping Porphyria’s dead body in his lap. He wanted God’s approval for the great deed that he accomplish, God’s silence showed his approval.