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Friday, 13 January 2017

The simplest gesture of them all...

Relationships are mostly based on grand gestures. Whether it’s the first time he asks you on a date or when she tells you she loves you. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday or even welcoming a family member home. These moments are thought to be complete only when done with a grand gesture. Think about it for a moment; promposals, proposals, even gender reveals, birthdays, anniversaries and the list can go on and on. Relationships are not complete without these grand gestures. Why? Is it because we need something big and flashy to happen to be able to remember these events? Or have we, as humans, become so shallow that only flashy big gestures are acceptable?

I have nothing against gestures of love. I think they’re cute and my fiancĂ© and I have had a few similar moments; though not on such a large scale as the norm for relationships. So, now his love is only acceptable as true love when he goes all out with the flowers and chocolates and balloons and makes sure everybody who is anybody knows that he went through so much trouble just for you. Or for that Instagram or Facebook post. Because if he didn’t have all the material stuff, how would you both post about it? How would you make sure the world knows exactly how in love and happy you are? 

Do we really let these grand romantic gestures define our relationships with each other? Many aspects of our lives have become so superficial that it is very rare to find two people who are truly happy with each other. How many times do we hear ‘He is never romantic enough’ from the woman of the relationship? And how many times do we hear ‘she never appreciates the small things I do for her’ from the man? Too often. 

Why have we let ourselves become dependent on material things we do not need and will not remember, to make the most memorable moments in our lives as public as we can, when they should be cherished for the small details and the smallest touch or smile, instead of how many roses we're given or what fancy words are uttered? Why do our proposals and birthday greetings have to be made so public, when they should be some of the most private moments of our lives? Are we that insecure in our feelings for the people we love that we need to ensure other are made aware of them? Can we not express our love without making sure everyone knows about it? The answer to that is no. 

In most cases, we find women being unhappy with their relationships because their significant other hasn’t made a grand romantic gesture in a while. The reason behind superficial friendships is which friend broadcasts her/his love the most. Our lives have started to revolve around making sure others know of our love instead of ensuring our loved ones actually feel that love.

I honestly think that relationships based on grand gestures are doomed from the start. Why? Because as time goes on, expectations of how we receive the love expressed by our loved ones are raised so high that even if the smallest thing they do could make all the difference we would not notice them. Why? We are looking for that ‘grand gesture’. 

Surely, there must be reason behind all these expectations. Is it because it's normal? No. It's what is being portrayed in books and movies and by the media in general. Grand gestures are what we have been brainwashed to accept, and nothing else. It's 'All or nothing'. 

We, as women, have been taught to accept nothing less than the grand romantic gesture. We, as men, have been taught that nothing other than the grand romantic gesture will be accepted. 

I will use the example of The Bachelor/Bachelorette series. Every season ends with a grand proposal infront of millions of fans - mostly ladies - who sigh at the big diamond on her finger and the romance and love that oozes from between the couple. How many of those relationships survived? A handful at most. Why? Because it was built on romantic dates in the most exotic places and grand romantic gestures, and when the couples returned to their normal lives they found they had difficulty keeping the romance alive. 

Personally, the small things are what matter. A single rose on a random day, just because he was thinking of you. A few pancakes for breakfast because you know he loves them. Freshly hand baked goodies, instead of a fancy cake made by a professional, because he wanted you to know how much you meant to him. A handwritten note slipped in front of the other because you want them to know how much you love them. That, my friends, is romance. Not a big flashy ring, or a bouquet of a hundred roses because ‘it’s her birthday and I have to get her something expensive’. No.

 Live life appreciating every small gesture and you will be content. It's the simple ones that count the most. 

Think of a simple gesture. Any small thing that touched your soul. How much more meaningful is it? Something you can hold close to your heart forever.

 Share a few in the comments below. :) 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The love of a woman

Recently, I came across my year 11 poetry coursework. We were given the task of choosing 6 poems and linking them with a theme. I chose poems that all came under the theme of 'Emotions of a woman'.

Poetry Coursework - click on link to view.

I found that much of what I had written on these poems I still agreed with. Women love with all that they are. There is no such thing as a halfway love. One of the ways that a woman loves; which I did not mention in my work, was the love a woman had for her friend. That love is pure and eclipses all. How, you ask? How can the love of a friend eclipse all other forms love? What about the love of her mother for her child? Or the love a woman gives a man?

See, all these are bound by some blood relation or expectation. But friendship, now that is a relationship - a love - that a woman chooses simply for her own happiness. When a woman chooses to befriend another, it is for the sole reason that she finds happiness in the other persons presence. I do not speak of the superfluous friendships that last little over an hour, but of those that last a lifetime.

And on that note, I leave you with Sonnet 104 by William Shakespeare.

Poetry Coursework

Women are commonly referred to as extremely ‘emotional creatures’. This stereotypical name tag given to women in general may not always be true. Some women do not express their emotions at all, whilst others are attention seeking-drama queens. However, a woman does have emotions; we all do (yes, even the men), and thus their display of emotion, or lack thereof, cannot and should not be held against them. Hence, I have chosen to base the choice of my poems on this particular theme; the ways in which a woman expresses her feelings.

-Side note: the poems written in purple font are links to the poems, should you wish to read them first before reading my 16 year old analysis on them. 

These are not only romantic sentiments as found in the poem Remember by Christina Risotti and in Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning , but actually the passion of a mother in A mother in a Refugee Camp by Chinua Achebe, the admiration of a daughter in Poem at Thirty-Nine by Alice Walker, and even the zeal of a woman speaking of herself as simply a woman as found in the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. In order to show the contrast in the approach to emotions in the use of poetry of the male and female species I will explore Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare. This is so I can have a solid argument on the theme I have chosen; the emotions of a woman.

To begin with I would like to express my views on Remember by Christina Rossetti. This poem is spun by the hands of a woman in love. At this time in her life, Rossetti learned she was dying and therefore, it is believed by many critics, this is the reason for this heartfelt declare of her love for the one man who she could not have. Rossetti has made clear her undying love as well as her impending death clear to the reader, from the very first line. She expresses her wishes as though in a love letter to the beloved and through this we see that her love has been immortalized by the exploit of poetry. This love and desire of hers can be seen when Rossetti asks her lover, in the first line, to ‘remember’ her when she has gone ‘far away’. Her farewell note comes in the last line when she asks her love to not ‘be sad’ when he remembers her. This shows that her love runs deep enough that she prefers to not be remembered rather than have the love of her life to be distressed in any way. This true love is also seen in Browning’s Sonnet 43.

Sonnets, particularly, are categorized as declarations of love in the form of poetry. Sonnets are an old and popular form of poetry. One usually links sonnets to William Shakespeare; who wrote over 150 sonnets. Sonnet 43 is a statement of Browning’s love as she compares it to the most basic human needs; - the sun, thus emphasizing her strong, deep love. Through personification of the words Being and Grace, Browning expresses her passion for this person in her life and this affects the reader as these are complex characteristics found in humans, yet are thought to be simple and not given much attention to. When Browning devotedly proclaims that she ‘shall love thee better after death’ she, consequently, proves her love to hold such ‘depth’ that even after death she will not only love her man, but love him ‘better’.

Nonetheless, sonnets are not always written as a proclamation of love, as in the case of Sonnet
130. It is a popular belief in the literary world that William Shakespeare wrote poems about a
beautiful damsel, who he loved; many have asked to whom they are dedicated to, due to the compassion portrayed in his poetry. However, this certain sonnet ‘breaks tradition’. The style and language of the poem is the same yet the meaning behind the carefully chosen words of each stanza hold a diverse meaning once looked at closely. To use an example, ‘roses damasked, red and white, but no such see I in her cheeks’, to compare the unusual comparisons to Shakespeare’s other work. The roses are possibly an allusion to the rose known as the York and Lancaster rose. Reference to this rose was made in The Taming of the Shrew where Shakespeare declares, ‘Such war of white and red within her cheeks’. This, furthermore, emphasizes the change in Shakespeare’s writing. Sonnet 130 is Shakespeare’s pragmatic tribute to his uncomely mistress, commonly referred to as the dark lady because of her ‘dun’ complexion. In my opinion, this is the first poem in which a man’s true love is portrayed. This statement of mine may be questioned yet it will be agreed that most poems follow the norm and talk about beauty and base their love on this beauty. These words of
Shakespeare betray us; he talks of revulsion towards this ‘hags’ appearance yet to end his proclamation, Shakespeare informs us of his love for his woman with ‘ eyes nothing like the sun’. The ordinary beauty and humanity of his lover are important to Shakespeare in this sonnet, and he deliberately uses typical love poetry metaphors against themselves. It is for this that I chose to use this poem to apply emphasis on the fact that emotions may also be shown by men, even they show them in a miscellaneous, completely different way.

There are countless other poems of love in the world yet the one type of love only women can experience is that of a mother. This type of love is unique and those who have felt it consider themselves to be special for just bestowing love unto their child. The love for a child from the mother is undoubtedly highlighted in the poem A Mother in a Refugee Camp where Chinua
Achebe talks about the feelings of a mother watching her child, her own blood, dying and not being able to do anything about it. Achebe describes the love in such detail that even those readers who have not experienced motherhood receive a taste of what it is. I say this due to the details of the mother immaculately grooming her child who is undernourished, and yet continues to do so when she does not even know if her child will live to see another day. It is this love that moves the reader, especially when Achebe concludes by stating in the form of a simile that this act of love is ‘like putting flowers on a tiny grave’. The mother’s actions, in another scenario, would be considered simple yet at this particular time holds a great significance to the mother; it could be the last time she is with her child. The fact that even though she knows her child is dying, the mother still hopes and stays strong by performing the everyday ritual of grooming her child is brought to the reader’s attention and confirms that the mother has love in her heart, a love that goes so deep that she does not even show her fear of the inevitable death of her child.

This parent-child connection is also seen in Poem at Thirty-Nine. However, this time with the voice of a daughter, grown up, yet still possessing the ever burning love and respect for her father. We see this respect when Walker describes her father’s attributes and how she ‘misses’ him. We experience a sense of nostalgia coming from the poet; she is remembering her father and how she misses the time they spent together. We see that she is passionate about the same things as her father who she considers as her teacher; her mentor, when she says ‘Now I look and cook just like him’.  It is also made clear to the reader that the poet is saying that what she is, who she is, is because of her father. This confirms to the reader that Walker has a sense of reverence towards her father and highlights her love for her father which reaches to him even in death.

My final poem Still I Rise, is a well-known poem. This poem could be interpreted in a number of ways; racially, politically, and even socially. Maya Angelou describes herself as a ‘black ocean’ expressing her race proudly. She also conveys her femininity using phrases like ‘…. I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?’ This is a very different view of a woman; Angelou is expressing her sexuality and proves that women are also proud of their ‘sexiness’ as Angelou puts it. This shows that woman may be considered as fickle but are strong, independent humans who can sustain themselves.

It is said that ‘woman, without her man is nothing’ yet this could also be said as ‘woman, without her, man is nothing’. These poems prove that a woman feels a number of various emotions; different types of love seen in both Sonnet 43 and Remember, a passionate anger as seen in Still I Rise, the eternal love in Mother in a Refugee Camp and the portrayal of respect and awe in Poem at Thirty-Nine. The emotions of a woman may be looked to as a weakness but they are actually her strength; these emotions are what make a woman the person she is; a cherished mother, a prized daughter, and an irreplaceable companion to man.

-Side note: the poems written in purple font are links to the poems, should you wish to read them first before reading my 16 year old analysis on them.