16 pages 32 minutes read

Derek Walcott

Love After Love

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1976

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Poem Analysis

Analysis: “Love After Love”

At its core, Walcott’s “Love After Love” is about looking inward; the poem deals intimately with the concept of the “self.” While the poem’s title implies a primary focus on love, the underlying themes in Walcott’s poem are deeper and more complicated than that. Walcott’s use of language is straightforward, which lends “Love After Love” a narrative tone that belies the piece’s lyricism and use of metaphor.

Consisting of 15 lines arranged in four stanzas, “Love After Love” addresses its audience from the second-person perspective. The disembodied, unidentified speaker tells “you,” who is a general stand-in for the reader or audience, to “Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart / to itself” (Lines 8-9). The speaker’s primary purpose lies in that line. The speaker wants “you” to love “yourself,” but the speaker also makes several interesting observations about the nature of the self as both a stranger—“[y]ou will love again” who “was your self” (Line 7)—and someone close enough to have “loved you / all your life…who knows you by heart” (Lines 9-11). In “Love After Love,” Walcott argues that sustainable love can only come from understanding and actualization through art and other physical expressions of the internal self.