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Szymborska’s and Dove’s Love: A Comparison-and-Contrast of Love at First Sight and Heart to Heart

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Love at First Sight...or...Heart to Heart?

A Comparison-and-Contrast of Love at First Sight and Heart to Heart

The most common theme in all prose and poetry would be love. Numerous poets and writers have spent considerable time trying to capture what it truly means, its secret ingredients, its symptoms and possible side effects, its many dangers, and its true nature and tendencies. However, all efforts seem futile for as long as there is an opposition in all things, there will surely be more than just one way of seeing, describing, and feeling what love really is. Some are torn between how love should be experienced and how it should be given. Some tried labeling it as familial, self, or selfless. Some claim it to be natural occurring, others believe it is a reaction from a stimulus. Whatever the reason or explanation may be, people find love to the universal theme in all literature especially in poetry. Since love is mysterious as many writers, lyricists, poets, musicians, and thinkers have spent so much time and resources trying to unlock its mysteries, this short paper is written to examine two different poems from totally different authors. Although the poems were written in about the same period, I would like to compare-and-contrast their individual views and meanings of love.

Love at First Sight

A. The Poet

The poem Love at First Sight was written by Polish literary figure and 1996 Nobel-Prize Winner in Literature Wislawa Szymborska. Although considered by some an enigmatic writer, she is one of the most prominent figures of literature in Poland. She may not have produced many poems but her few great poems are enough for her to make a mark in the literary world.

Szymborska's writing style is unusual as she commonly uses paradox, irony and contradictions as her literary devices in order expose her themes, which mostly are philosophical. Her life experience led to an abundance of her poems that feature war and terrorism. Also, another trademark she employed in her writing is the unusual point-of-views she used in her writings. Above all this, Szymborska is known to write in such clarity and simplicity that most of her readers find her works so simple yet so clear and beautiful.

B. The Poem

The poem Love at First Sight is not an ordinary poem with a very ordinary theme, love. The poem is written with such clarity and plainness but full of meaning and sense. The poem is originally written in Polish and contains eight stanzas with no definite number of lines and rhymes.

“Love at First Sight” has no specific setting – a time or a place. It is the observation of the poet who happens to be the narrator, of two lovers who exhibit affection in a distance. The poet talks about the beginnings of a love affair and misconceptions about love affairs, such as love at first sight, as the title suggests.

The poet, the strange observer of the two lovers, believes that what is supposed to be chance ends up as destiny. It was chance that brought them together but the sudden burst of feeling towards each other made them believe it was destiny. It was chance. The observer wonders how many times these two lovers have passed each other in the streets, hallways or staircases of this small world; how many times have these two lovers passed each other, face to face, in a revolving door or have said sorry or excuse to each other in a random crowd. They may have met before but at that very moment of sudden burst of love, was it chance toying with them or was it destiny all written out?

The poet begins to wonder about how love at first sight really works. But as the poem about the end, he or she begins to realize, that there is no definite way to explain this love at first sight. He or she begins to realize that one learns to love in an uncertain way. And, the poet begins to realize that it is chance playing with lovers and will grow as fate or destiny. Szymborska's irony is evident in the poem especially in the final lines of the first stanza, “Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still.” The concept of love at first sight begins with chance, ends up as destiny.

Heart to Heart

A. The Poet

Rita Frances Dove is a famous American essayist, author and poet. She is a Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry in 1987 a recipient of various awards and honors as a poet, author and essayist. She is also a famous lyricist and composer for different artist. Dove is not identified to a genre of literature because she personally believes that she is a writer in general and she writes what suits her. She writes fiction, poetry, short stories and letters. Though she writes flexibly, she is well known for her lyricism and poetry.

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B. The Poem

Dove’s poem Heart to Hear is another love themed poem in which the poet expresses her views about the general symbol for love, the heart. Beautifully written in short descriptive style, Dove begins by trying to debunk the conventional views about the symbol for love, when she writes: “it is neither red not sweet.” She continues by saying it doesn’t really turn over, harden or break. Dove, in the first stanza, tries to establish misconceptions of the society about the symbol for love. He ends the stanza by claiming that though we connect our emotions with our hearts, it doesn’t necessarily symbolize our emotions or feelings.

Clearly, Dove pertains to the heart as a body organ. She continues in her next stanza that the heart is not a fancy object, but it is in fact an imperfectly shaped organ that beats in all humans. It just beats and it doesn’t tell how to love or how to feel. It just beats. However, in the final stanza, Dove goes on to admit that above all these, her heart belongs to someone else who she believes will accepts her heart and self fully.


In terms of form, both poems are written in very plain language. Yet, beauty can be found in the plainness of both poems. Both poets effectively employed the literary device used in the poems in a clever use of imagery, symbolism, metaphor and irony.

The poems Love at First Sight of Szymborska and Heart to Heart both express the poet’s view about the love. Also, both poems try to dismiss the conventional views about aspects of love such as its symbol and love at first sight. Still, the two poems were able to come to realization about their experience of love. Despite having different views about love, the two poets still managed to see the meaning of love based on their beliefs and experience.

Evidently, love is truly mysterious. It is a common concept in poetry and literature that is so near and yet so far. The two poems are just a glimpse of the real mystery of love.


Dove, R. (2017, February 14). Heart to Heart. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from

Szymborska, W. (2016, April 22). Love at First Sight. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from

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