Below, you’ll find the poem and part of an analysis of ‘Love in a Life’ by Robert Browning.
Includes a breakdown of the stanzas, an insight into the speaker + voice of the poem, and an exploration of the themes and deeper meanings. This is only a quick overview to help you get to grips with the poem; you can access a full in-depth breakdown of the poem on the links below.
Stanza 1: I go room by room, hunting through the house where we live together. Heart, don’t be afraid, because, my dear heart – you will find her – Next time you see her, she’ll be herself! Not the trouble she left behind, that was left in the curtain, the perfume of the couch! As she brushed past the corners of the room, the flowers on them grew and blossomed newly: The mirror gleamed at the wave of her feather.
Stanza 2: But the day is moving on, and I look through the door after door, but nothing is there. I try to look again and hope I’ll be lucky – I go through the wide house, from the wing to the middle of it. Still, I’m unlucky! She leaves as I enter each space. I spend the whole day on this quest – who cares? But it’s twilight, you see – and I still have such sofas to explore, so many closets to look through, so many alcoves to bother!
The speaker explores his anxieties about losing a loved one in the poem. He looks frantically for her all over the house that they share (‘inhabit’) together – finding echoes and traces of her in each room, without fully coming into contact with the woman herself. Though the day has almost ended, the speaker ends the poem with a note of obsessive positivity, remarking that there are still many unsearched places that require his attention.
|TASK: Pick two of the themes below, make a mind map and add four separate quotations that relate to them. Make short notes of analysis, explaining how and why each one relates to your theme. What, in your opinion, is the poet’s final message or statement about each theme that you chose?|
- Unrequited Love
- Loss / Grief
Thanks for reading! If you’re studying this particular poem, you can buy our detailed study guide here. This includes:
- Story + Summary
- Speaker + Voice
- Language Feature Analysis
- Form and Structure Analysis
- Attitudes + Messages
- Themes + Deeper Ideas
- Key Quotations
- Extra tasks to complete by yourself
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