Themes and Meanings

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 188

The poem’s two primary themes are expressed immediately: the simultaneous longing for total communication and the knowledge that such communication is probably not possible. Love and marriage have been subjects for poets throughout the centuries, so Levertov is certainly not tackling a new subject. Yet she breaks from tradition by presenting her themes from both a twentieth century and a timeless perspective.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Ache of Marriage Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Levertov is often discussed as a feminist poet, but her reflections on love, marriage, and even divorce are never occasions for “male bashing.” Rather, she suggests that both men and women have difficulty in functioning wholly either within or outside marriage. In “Divorcing” she writes, “We were Siamese twins,/ Our blood’s not sure/ it can circulate,/ now we are cut apart.” In the poems in O Taste and See she presents a realistic rather than a romantic picture of love and marriage. Twentieth century works (with the exception of romance novels) do not romanticize love and marriage with a “happily ever after” conclusion. They are honest in their sometimes puzzling conclusions. Levertov, like other modern poets, leaves the reader feeling both hope and despair.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial
Next

Analysis