Eros, the God of Love
While both poets portray Eros as a symbol of consummate love, Stevenson focuses on his physical attributes, whereas Bridges concentrates on his mysteriousness. In Eros, the speaker utilizes the grotesqueness of a brute to emphasize the awesome example of love that Eros emanates. Commencing with the rugged image of a battered thug “with [a] broken nose/And squinty eyes,” responding to a plea for help, the poem establishes Eros as the ultimate symbol of love, magnified by the contrast of what he stands for and the repulsive physical attributes that he possesses. Lines 4-5, Eros) This mutilated gangster fated to inherent corporeal qualities of “boxer lips/And patchy wings,” answers to the call for assistance, mutilation of the human body no longer an archetype of evil and nefarious behavior. (Lines 7-8, Eros)
When Eros arrives the surprised speaker of the poem questions cynically, “can this be you,” establishing the confusing circumstances that the distinction between his bodily traits and his innate symbol of love produces. Line 6, Eros) Eros, frequently assigned as the God of Lust rather than the God of Love, materializes in the poem as deformed and injured, utilizing the imperfect experiences of the archetype of the human body as an attempt to illustrate Eros as an image of love rather than desire. The most conspicuous image, in stanza two, of the contrast of corporeal grotesqueness and Eros as an icon of love —“My face that so offends you/Is the sum/Of blows your lust delivered/One by one”—effectively captures the intimacy of his suffering and distinguishes the rogue of his misery as desire. Lines 13-16, Eros) The word “blows” institutes a sense of assault and attack from which Eros ultimately lacks to escape due to his innateness of love. Further, to illustrate his anger towards the misconceptions of his affection based character, he corresponds that image accusing; “archetypes/That you create,” the word “you” irately supplementing Eros’ resentment against the attacks of “lust. ” (Line 20, Eros) Eros, defending his symbol of perfect love, displays his antipathy to the erroneously implied assumptions of his nature.
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Finally, in his strive for a resurrection of his true substance, Eros ardently announces, “Better my battered visage,/Bruised but hot,/Than love dissolved in loss/Or left to rot,” establishing his indisputable commitment to the purity of love. This ultimate declaration decreeing that he would rather be “battered” yet acknowledged once again as a symbol of love, rather than beautiful and love “dissolved” or “left to rot,” a victory for lust that Eros would never allow.
This image of beauty traded in for repulsiveness expresses both Eros’ genuine symbol of consummate love as well as his ultimate will to defeat lust in the name of affection. The narrator in EP?? highlights Eros as an icon of perfect love by juxtaposing ideas of power and beauty. This poem initiates with images emphasizing the power of Eros, identified as both the “idol of the human race” and the “tyrant of the human heart,” overwhelming titles disclosing the speaker’s intention to contrast Eros’ immense influence with images of beauty and love to display his profound mysteriousness. Lines 1-2, EP??) The immediate and gentle description of Eros as “the flower of lovely youth,” further supplements the stringent distinction between power and splendor. (Line 4, EP??) The images of love and youth that the archetype of the flower implies vigorously contrasts with the connotations of slavery and tyranny that the dictions tyrant and idol entail, ultimately adding to the ambiguity of Eros. Perfect love, commonly described as ineffable by nature, directly corresponds with the confusing mysteriousness of Eros.
Similarly, to demonstrate Eros’ divine abstruseness, the speaker questionably assumes, “Surely thy body is thy mind,” a hypothesis in which the speaker exposes not only his uncertainty towards Eros’ divine charisma, but also his inexorable desire to know it. (Line 13, EP??) The speaker, entranced not annoyed, continues to pry at Eros’ anonymity, calling out his “secret sensuous innocence,” presenting curiosity induced guessing at Eros’ nature. Line 18, EP??) The word “innocence” establishes connotations of purity and honesty, firmly contrasting to the implications of secrecy, consequently associating qualities of love to the traits of authority.
However, to illustrate crave for the knowledge of the mysteriousness entailed in Eros’ love rather than the resentment of it, the speaker immediately adds that, “[he] dream[s] [to] knowest it,” an admittance of passionate curiosity that Eros’ love lays upon the speaker. (Line 20, EP??) The most salient image, in stanza three, of the hypnotizing mysteriousness of Eros’ love—“none who e’er long’d for thy mbrace,/Hath cared to look upon thy face,” fruitfully captures the enticing love of Eros, persuading people to let him into their hearts even without looking at his beauty. The captivating supplement of Eros’ love, unknown yet pursued, demonstrates Eros’ representation as ultimate and consummate love by directly paralleling the mysteriousness within love itself. These two poems reflect distinct points of view on the Eros’ love: Eros focuses on his passionate loyalty to love through the reflection on physical attributes, while EP?? concentrates on the divine mysteriousness of his love through the juxtaposition of power and beauty.
This dichotomy, which also occurs in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, illustrates the nature of true love, love that embraces both passion and mysteriousness; passion, strong between both lovers, and mysteriousness, represented by the immense longing for the other person within the couple. This definition of true love, engulfed by many poets now and in the past, remains infinite, constantly demanding readers to reflect upon the ultimate meaning of consummate love, a word characterized as indescribable by many.