Love (III)

Love (III) Themes

Man's Fall

The speaker in this poem believes that he is unworthy of God’s love. Written by a Christian poet, "Love (III)" thus comments on the nature of original sin and man’s fall from grace. Celestin John Walby argues that the first stanza of the poem, in which the speaker draws away from God, mirrors Adam and Eve’s drawing away from God in the Garden of Eden. Aware of man’s fall from grace, this speaker does not believe that he personally (or mankind as a whole) is worthy of redemption. However, in the final stanza, which recalls the eating of the sacrament, he is redeemed.

The Nature of Divine Love

Herbert uses biblical allusions to establish God's all-forgiving, limitless capacity for love. In Christianity, mankind has fallen due to original sin; however, through good works and devotion, mankind can regain paradise. Although the speaker in this poem believes that he is still unworthy of God's love, Love convinces him that all men are worthy of receiving divine love. He reminds that speaker that Love/God created his eyes; if the speaker has "marred" them with sin, that does not mean the blame necessarily resides with him. Rather, God as creator bears responsibility for all his creations. Love thus convinces the speaker to accept his place at God's table and dine. This can also be viewed as an allegory for entering heaven.