In this poem, an adult is looking back on a person they had affections for or a relationship with when they were younger. They are trying to remember them and are evidently still fond of them; despite not seeing each other for a long time; 'after a silence of years.' Read the poem.
The poem uses typical romantic imagery; 'dream' 'lipstick' 'old film' (lots were romantic) 'star' (stargazing is classic romantic activity) 'love letter' 'flowers' 'heart' 'lover's eyes' 'brings me here to my window' (connotations of Romeo and Juliet)
Imagery is used to express remembrance of the lover: 'all day I will glimpse it, in windows of a changing sky, in mirrors, in my lover's eyes, wherever you are'
Nostalgic - remembering past fondly longing - 'all day I will glimpse it' peaceful - 'child's love', not really passionate, but innocent and intimate lonely - 'in my lover's eyes, wherever you are', persona has a lover but is still thinking about the past
The poem has a regular structure; 3 stanzas of 5 lines each. The regularity could show rehearsal; the persona has thought of their 'first love' a lot? Regularity could also represent that the persona is trapped and restricted by time moving on; 'wherever you are,' - doesn't know where lover is and cannot go to them
universal; no names or gender pronouns used; could be about anyone, as most people can relate to this
'close to my lips as lipstick' - memory is vivid, remembering details like someone's name 'an old film played at a slow speed' - Old films are not always appreciated by younger generations, but they are still considered the best ("Never as good as the original"), same could be said for first relationship. Old films also have an impact on newer films; persona's first love has an influence on their future relationships e.g. like a director being inspired by a film to make their own. 'a star, long dead' - Stars can burn out, but because of the distance, the light takes longer to reach us. Stars we see from Earth could be burnt out, but we won't know for a long time. 'First love' could have moved on, but persona is still clinging to the hope their relationship gave them; almost going back to it for inspiration. 'unseen flowers suddenly pierce and sweeten the air' - The lover could have brought the persona flowers in the past; persona could be remembering this gesture. 'pierce' - sudden, sharp, clear memory, unexpected 'sweeten' - makes persona feel happier remembering her 'first love' 'child's love' and 'on the last evening' perhaps suggest that persona or 'first love' moved away, maybe falling in love on holiday; knowing time was limited
nostalgia Love and fondness - sees their lover in everything Memory - love exists only in persona's memory The past - speaks of their time together Passing of time - reminiscing about first romantic partner Loss/grief - no longer in touch with this lover Direct address - second person pronoun 'you' Mean time - 'on the last night' - time was limited Dramatising scenes from adolescence - 'child's love' Moments of consolation through love, memory and language - has made wonderful memories with them, was in love once, 'unseen flowers suddenly pierce and sweeten the air'
'First Love' and 'Litany' in the presentation of memories 'Litany' describes a memory a person could be ashamed of and be upset by, as the child was not happy being controlled and was punished if they rebelled. 'First Love' describes a happy memory that the narrator is nostalgic about. However, since the memory is from a long time ago, the events could have been romanticised and exaggerated by the narrator. 'Litany' is more factual, as it names things; e.g. 'Pyrex', so is more likely to be closer to the truth. Memory in 'Litany' is not pleasant, as if the narrator would rather not remember, whereas the imagery in 'First Love' makes the memory seem dreamlike - especially with longer sentences. 'Litany's lack of imagery shows the narrator's lack of enthusiasm for the memory. Language in 'First Love' is enough to spark the creation of images in the reader's mind, whereas language in 'Litany' does not focus on the reader, but sharply on the memory itself - as if the narrator doesn't want to tell the story any longer than they have to.