Love (III)

Love (III) Essay Questions

  1. 1

    To what end does Herbert use erotic language in "Love (III)"? Is it a mere accident? Or is there a deeper meaning?

    In light of Herbert’s Christianity, it is clear that "Love (III)" is a scene of man’s union with God. However, the erotic language asks us to consider what kind of union we are seeing when the speaker is gradually seduced by Love’s sweet, come-hither comforting. Taking the Biblical references to Luke and the Song of Songs into account, we can interpret the erotic language to emphasize man’s ascent into heaven.

  2. 2

    "Love (III)" is a lyric poem, but it also includes dialogue. Discuss the effect of this formal innovation on the poem.

    While lyric poems often share the inner voice and experience of only one speaker, here, we see the speaker interacting with another person—Love, or God personified. The speaker does not seek to explain Love’s motivations or interior experience. In fact, the effect of the dialogue is actually that we have less insight into the speaker’s experience as well. Therefore, when the speaker finally agrees to “sit and eat,” it is ambiguous as to whether he is truly convinced by Love’s assurances, or if he has merely been cowed into submission or killed with kindness. Therefore, the ultimate commentary on the nature of sin and man’s redeemability is left somewhat open to interpretation.