Original poem reprinted online here: "I Said to Love" by Thomas Hardy
Originally read: January 12, 2013
More information about the Poet: Thomas Hardy
I didn't write this down in my notes, but after rereading this poem, I imagine a narrative, similar to how I saw a narrative in Ministry Today by Steve Davenport even though, more or less, this is a lyric poem. I, once again, imagine two guys at a bar talking about love this time (other time it was about God).
The anaphora of "I said to [...]" brings a dialogue quality to the poem. When the speaker is addressing "love," really, the speaker is just exposing his own thoughts about love. For example, in the first stanza, "When men adored thee and thy way / all else above;" Although the speaker tries to look at the subject a bit objectively and take himself away from the "men." The further the poem gets, the more personal the poem becomes.
I think I questioned when the speaker wrote, "I said to him." Because I didn't know whom "him" referred to. Past me wrote this, "Is love 'him' -- a masculine trait and the way 'I' is in the poem is kind of like a salesman trying to sell something."
So the identity of him is clearer to me now. Him is the speaker. I know this is kind of like a "duh" moment, however, what threw me off was the "we" in the poem. So my automatic association is the speaker and another person. But I see it now as the speaker and the past self of the speaker:
We now know more of thee than then
We were but weak in judgement when,
With hearts abrim,
We clamoured thee that thou would'st please
Inflict on use thine agonies
So it's more of a hindsight type of thing. The now speaker, (who is remembering his own advice) and the raw past speaker (just learning these things) have discovered/done things (ambiguous) for the sake of love.
Then when the the speaker once again addresses the concept of love, the kind of objective (outsider) perspective devolves into attacks -- love is not (insert list here in stanza 3).
Then finally with the last stanza the speaker changes that his pain is all man's pain "we are too old in apathy!" (this line is a bit sentimental, but it's a nice exclamation that changes the direction of the poem). The last line of the poem which repeats the "I said to Love." is kind of dismissing in a sense. The last stanza, the speaker could've made a bold proclamation about mankind and not to fall in the traps of love, however, the exclamation and statement is addressed to the "Love." A specific memory, a specific time realized through conceptualization.