The Broken Heart by William Barnes

Before he died in 1886, William Barnes published a number of collections of poetry, which included “The Broken Heart,” a poem about how true love cannot be bought or forced; it must be given freely, and how we must always do what we think is right.

The Broken Heart


News o’ grief had overteaken
Dark-eyed Fanny, now vorseaken;
There she zot, wi’ breast a-heaven,
While vrom zide to zide, wi’ grieven,
Vell her head, wi’ tears a-creepen
Down her cheaks, in bitter weepen.
There wer still the ribbon-bow
She tied avore her hour ov woe,
An’ there wer still the hans that tied it
Hangen white,
Or wringen tight,
In ceare that drowned all ceare bezide it.

When a man, wi’ heartless slighten,
Mid become a maiden’s blighten,
He mid cearelessly vorseake her,
But must answer to her Meaker;
He mid slight, wi’ selfish blindness,
All her deeds o’ loven-kindness,
God wull waigh ’em wi’ the slighten
That mid be her love’s requiten;
He do look on each deceiver,
He do know
What weight o’ woe
Do break the heart ov ev’ry griever.

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Analysis of Barnes’ “The Broken Heart”

“The Broken Heart” was written by multi-talented poet and an ordained minister in the Church of England, William Barnes, who died in 1886. This poem gives two perspectives of a broken-hearted person – one of a man and the other of a woman.

Barnes illustrates that a woman will weep and feel miserable when she experiences a heartbreak. The man will also feel the same when he realizes how much he did for his loved one who broke his heart. However, in the end, God will choose what is best for them both, and they both will have the life they are destined to.

What this poem tries to say is that everyone will have their heart broken at one point in their lives. The heartbreak does not even have to come from a romantic relationship.  Friends or even family relationships can have difficulties too. As the poem explores the intensity and the difficulties that come with true love, it can remind some readers of “Romeo and Juliet,” where the love of the protagonists did not turn out the way they wanted it to.

Nostalgia plays a crucial role in people’s lives. At times, it is incredible going down memory lane with your loved one. Speaking of old times can be a favorite past time for a couple, and it can get very romantic. Especially when a couple is going through a bad phase, reminiscing about days gone by can help remind them why they got together at all.

However, many couples can have a complicated relationship, where one of them plays with the heart of the other, or they need to break off the relationship when one of them goes away to another country and never comes back. What this poem tries to say is that those who play with the heart of others should realize that what they are doing is wrong.

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