Song ("Love Armed") Background

Song ("Love Armed") Background

“Love Armed” is not an independent, standalone poem, but actually the most famous examples of the poetic songs which Aphra Behn inserted into another type of writing at which she also excelled: stage drama. “Love Armed” is a song that was originally conceived for the only tragedy which Behn ever produced. Abdelazer; or, The Moor’s Revenge was the fourth of sixteen plays which Behn would write during her long and varied career.

“Love Armed” was listed simply as “Song” when introduced at the opening scene of Abdelazer at a period in Behn’s career when she was primarily known as a playwright. Although she’d been writing poetry for years, it remained unpublished as there was no money to be made. Behn only turned to playwriting out of monetary necessity. The result of this necessity was that “Love Armed” would be the most famous work of verse attributed to her for much of Behn’s life.

The poetry for which she is most famous today would not be published until almost a decade after the premiere of Abdelazer and only a few years before her death at the young age of 48. Much of the thematic material covered in those more famous poems foreshadowed in “Love Armed” which covers territory such as unrequited love, the shocking expression of sexual desire by women and the subversion of conventional patriarchal constructions of ancient myth.

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