Julia Mitchell’s Canonball Paper on Isable Pagan’s “A Love Letter” and “A Letter”.

Julia Mitchell

November 22, 2015

Word Count: 796

Canonball Paper

The Other Sides of Romance

In this class, we have discussed the importance of the use of symbols of nature, gender roles, and issues of social class. While they are all extremely important topics to cover, there could have been more discussions on the topic of romance and how in some poems the women are portrayed as being extremely dependent on them. Isabel Pagan’s “A Letter” and “A Love Letter”, allows a different view into the topics that we have discussed in class by showing contradicting sides to the same story of romance.

“A Letter” gives an overall feeling of freedom and willfulness, something we have seen a lot in other poems we have read. But unlike other poems we have discussed, this poem portrays an overwhelming feeling of confidence and certainty of her situation. Specifically, on line 13, “It is my lot to live my lane”, in the footnotes it says “my lane: alone; without a mate”. She is basically saying that she would rather be by herself, be independent, and do her own thing rather than have someone disrupt her way of life. This phrase could also be a double meaning, such as lane meaning path. Which could be implying she chose her own path. She chose her own way and did not allow someone else to direct her. She did it herself, for herself. By doing this, it gives her independence and creates an image of a strong, independent woman. This poem differs from the other poems we have read such as, “The Faithless Knight” by Caroline Norton. In this poem, the woman is entranced by the knight and only focuses on him. She spends her days looking for him out her window and when she finally sees him, she thinks he looks at her but in reality it was just a passing glance. She spends every day waiting for this moment to happen and it consumes her life. Unlike in “A Letter”, where the woman lives for more than just the love of another, this poem has the woman focus on that love and has it engulf her life. Many of the poems we have read deal with relationships and tend to have a focus on the romantic aspect of them. “The Faithless Knight” specifically focuses on the need to be loved and to love. “A Letter”, does not talk about love like that. She talks about her wants and how she would publish her songs if she had the “power” to. It is not the love of someone else that defines her. It is important that we are able to see a woman talking about herself in a nonromantic sense. She is focusing on herself and not using another person to add value to her person. While it is important to see this side of things, “A Love Letter” shows the other side of things.

“A Love Letter” contradicts this by focusing on the effects of having a significant other has on her. Such as on lines 13-14,”When absent from your company, tis great uneasiness to me”. Unlike the other quote, where she takes comfort by the fact that she is without a mate, in this poem, having someone with her is what brings her comfort and being without them causes her to lose that comfort. Pagan decided to show both sides of this need or lack thereof for love. “A Love Letter”, although having the focus being on her need and want of love for the other person, and having a dependence on their love, Pagan makes it so she is secure enough to want to be loved and to love, but she is also secure enough to want to be alone, which is seen in “A Letter”. Despite having that dependence on their love, she also shows strength by finding confidence in it. It is important being able to see the women in these poems being able to directly state their wants and needs. In many of the poems we have read, the authors use nature as a way to indirectly and abstractly state their desires, but Pagan takes a different focus to this and takes a more direct route in expressing her wants by keeping them in the real world rather than relating them to an abstract image of nature.

Pagan takes on different views to the same story, but is still allowing both of them to show security in what they want, all this opens a different view into the things we have seen in this class. It is important to explore this side of things especially since she shows a character that is stronger and has more presence than what we have seen in the other poems we have read.




On my honor,

I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this assignment.

Julia Mitchell

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