The poem "Variations on the Word Love" by Margaret Atwood describes the wide range of different types of love. Each are uniquely different as described by the poet. The word love can be very different depending on the type of person. These different types include - the romantic, flowery love, the motherly, family love of caring, the friendship love, the deep understanding and connection between two people and the soul mate type of love. The poem describes how love can be interpreted very differently and is symbolic for how we act as humans towards each other.
The poet has written the poem to describe how love can be interpreted and about her own love. The second and last stanza of this free verse poem describers her love with her husband. This is evident through her word choice and in particular through the first sentence of the second stanza - "Then there's the two of us." This sentence implies that this stanza will bee about the poet and her true love. This variation of love is purely about the poet and her husband and describes the deep connection they share. The way the sentence has been constructed implies that they both rely and depend on each other and are soul mates. The poet may have written this poem for her husband to describe how meaningful it is to her by comparing it to how other people use the word love. The first sentence in the first stanza - "This is a word we use to plug holes with" describes how many people overuse the emotion love. She does this through the word plug.
The predominant emotion in this poem is love which branches off into affection, adoration and caring. Throughout the first stanza, the audience feel emotions of warmth and content as the poet describes the different types of love. The audience can most likely relate to some of these variations (eg. "you can cook with it[love] too"). They feel content and a fuzzy type of warmth when they read the first stanza as perhaps they can understand the types of love the poet explains. With the second stanza you start to feel the affection and love the poet has for the person she loves.
This poem is a two stanza free verse poem. An interesting technique used in the poem to enhance the effect includes enjambment. Atwood has successfully used this technique to create more interest in the poem. By creating a line break through some of the sentences, the poet has caused the audience to stop and pause and think more into what that word implies. For example, in the poem the word nothing in the sentence - "It's the right size for those warm blanks in speech, for those red heart-shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing like real hearts," is on a separate line to itself. This creates a greater interest and puts more force onto the word nothing.
The language used throughout this poem is very effective. The vocabulary is very wide and enhances the poem's effect by using the words like, "metallic silence", "red-heart shaped vacancies", "weed seedlings". The word love is mentioned several times to emphasise its meaning. Throughout the poem, the author has used personal pronouns regularly to capture the audience and make them feel more connected and "a part" of the poem. In particular, the persona and personal pronouns are evident in the second stanza where the poet describes her love.
The audience have a vivid image in their head when they read "Variations on the Word Love", mostly due to effective use of comparison and word choice. The poet compares the examples and variations on the word love between the first stanza and the second stanza.
Throughout the poem, the pace stays regular until towards the end, where the last sentence is slowed down slightly to reinforce the effect of the sentence.
In this poem, repetition has been used at least twice with - "O again and again in wonder and pain, a breath, a finger grip on a cliff side," and "Love! Love!" The first example does not particularly impact the poem however the repetition of Love, Love and the addition of two exclamation marks really reinforces the word and their symbolism.