In William Morris’ Echoes of Love’s House, the unique form and poetics work to create a fascinating discourse of what the narrator defines as “love” and how love functions, as well as its reciprocal effects with humanity. The form present, as stated, is unique, providing opposing, or contradicting statements adjacent to each other throughout the eight stanzas of two lines. For example, a contradictory statement is present in the first two lines of the poem, as the author writes: “Love gives every gift whereby we long to live
‘Love takes every gift, and nothing back doth give'” (Morris 1-2).
This contradiction, followed by others throughout the poem, works to establish the narrator’s working definition of love and how it functions. In stating opposing functions of love while using similar language, such as love “gives” every gift and love “takes” every gift, the narrator establishes the propensity to which love can affect people, given that while it can do one thing, it can do the complete opposite.
The personification of love is definitely substantial in this articulation by the narrator as well, given that because love can “give” and “take” it is almost something of a whole other person aside from one and their desired lover. An interesting question to pose would be that if the personification of love in this instance is reflective upon the desired lover of the narrator and the taking and giving comes from the lover, or, that love is somewhat of a whole other thing in itself that functions outside of the relationship of two people. I almost think that this question is referenced towards the end of the poem, when the author writes: “Ah! I praise thee, Love, for utter joyance won!
‘And is my praise nought worth for all my life undone?’” (Morris 15-16).
This interesting contradiction of the effects of love points towards the question I have raised in that because the narrator says, “I praise thee, love” the place of love can be replaced by a person. Is the narrator referring to love as something manifested through their lover, or simply an emotion that holds power over humanity in our shared ability to have feelings and emotions?