The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The design of this poem is similar to that of Robert Browning’s powerful dramatic romance, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (1855). In each poem a solitary youth, absorbed in his own reflections, is walking through a desolate landscape late in the day and eventually comes to a tower. In “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” however, a sense of ominous foreboding is relentlessly intensified until the very last line, whereas in “Love Among the Ruins” the scene is one of pastoral serenity with no sound but the tinkling of bells as drowsy sheep browse on lush green hills. As the title of the poem suggests, there are some traces of the ruins of a former civilization to be seen; nature is gradually reclaiming and healing the desecrated land.

According to the speaker, there had once been an awe-inspiring city on this site, dominated by an imposing palace, which was the residence of a king who could command an army of a million soldiers. No specific locale is named, but the repeated references to charioteers suggest that this was the site of an ancient civilization such as Troy, Babylon, or Persia. All of this was so long ago that the whole enormous complex with its palace and its hundred-gated marble wall is only a legend among the pastoral people who now inhabit the region.

The shepherd finally comes in sight of a little turret which is gradually being undermined and covered over by wild vegetation. This is...

(The entire section is 405 words.)