Doing a Literature Review | Jeffrey W. Knopf

Poetry analysis is a way of testing the form of a poem, its history, in a more noble way, with the main objective of uplifting one’s appreciation of work or understanding the motive behind the writing of the poem (Robert and Jacobs 3). Analysis of poems can take different shapes which may be unique from the poet point of view. At most times, poems are used to convey a particular message to the society or individual people. This essay will make efforts to analyze the poem written by Knopf and titled ‘The wedding Vow’. The poem is adapted from Knopf’s “The Unswept Room” (Knopf 1).

Importance of taking vows and marriage

The persona is the bride in a wedding ceremony taking place in the church. She is relinquishing all her sorrows in regard to leaving her parents on this final part of her life. From the poem the persona says,
“…crying slightly…”
From this phrase, it is clear that the bride is sad and at the same time happy that she is marrying her beloved. Though they have been leaving together, it is now the time to say their wedding vows in public. The persona claims that she is about to enjoy the fruits of marriage as she says,
“…I felt as if I had come to claim a promise—the sweetness…”
From her words, it seems that she knows more about marriage responsibilities. Once makes a promise to love till death separates them apart, the promise is meant to stay. It is interesting to know that this is the same church her parents got married. From the melancholic tome, it is evident that the bride has been taught a lot concerning marriage as an institution. This is the reason why she is getting married the right way! She remembers her parents sadly. The bride says,
“…crying ghost of my parents’ marriage there…”
She makes use of imagery ‘crying ghost’ to pass a message to the audience that her parents are long gone and that she is an orphan. Even though the parents died a long time ago, she is fulfilling the promise by getting married legally. Despite her being totally happy, that she is getting married, the bride is lost in the past fear of the unknown. Marriage is supposed to be a happy institution where the couple enjoys their fruits of love. It is not an institution of sadness. It is then apparent that the persona is using irony to pass out her feelings. She claims to feel sad. But as the reader understands, she is standing beside her beloved one. She has been anxious about this day so much that she says,
“…I felt as if I had come to claim a promise… been working toward this hour all my life”
The poem gives the reader the importance of taking vows in the church. Taking wedding vows has a different significance. First, it signifies the beginning of a new chapter in life-family!
“…It was a vow of the present and the future…”
The future of the two individuals depends on each other. It is only death that should separate the two. It is a pleasure to marry and to get married. In particular, when one is getting married to the one he or she loves most. Marriage needs understanding and trust.
“…And then it was time to speak—he was offering me, no matter what, his life…”
From the above lines, it is also apparent that once a couple gets married you offer ones’ self totally without any selfish interests. Marriage is about the mutual agreement and sharing each other’s happiness. Marriage is the greatest gift one can ever have. It is a gift of waiting for the right time where one is ready to enter into this vital institution and finally say the vows. Besides, the institution of marriage is God’s chosen blessing for the couple. This is the reason why a church minister is important in leading the couple to say their vows to each other and offer blessings to God. A church minister is an important witness to this important covenant. The persona says’
“…Gods stable perfectly cleaned…”
The statement has the meaning that God is recognized when taking wedding vows. This is the reason why most wedding vows are taken in the church or religious places. The bible signifies God’s message to the couple. It is vital for the couple getting married to fulfill God’s wishes in life. The wishes must be fulfilled in times of happiness or sadness, for better or worse and unconditionally. The challenges of marriage must be faced mutually by all parties involved.


It is important to note that the poem might have a deeper meaning and surface meaning. From the analysis, it is apparent that the wedding vows are not merely saying the vows for the crowd to see and admire. They are important because they signify an important bond between two people. This is marriage. One has to leave behind all the niceties and pleasures of the world to fulfill the promises made in public. It can also be noted that marriage is an institution from which the two individuals must respect and enjoy to their fullest provided there is love between them.


Work cited
Alfred A. Knopf, ‘The Wedding Vow’ by Sharon Olds, the Unswept Room, 2003, Print
Roberts, Edgar V. & Henry Jacobs (Eds.) Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing
6th edition, Upper Saddle Creek, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000

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