I Love You by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Analysis & Summary

Introduction: This study guide provides a comprehensive analysis of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem "I Love You." The guide explores the poem's structure, themes, and poetic devices. It offers an explanation of each stanza, identifies major themes, presents six key facts about the poet, and provides a critical analysis of the poem's language, structure, symbols, sound devices, and other literary devices. Additionally, the guide examines the attitudes and feelings expressed in the poem and suggests similar poems that share thematic connections with "I Love You." Through this study guide, readers can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Wilcox's exploration of passionate and enduring love.

Poem Text

I love your lips when they’re wet with wine
And red with a wild desire;
I love your eyes when the lovelight lies
Lit with a passionate fire.
I love your arms when the warm white flesh
Touches mine in a fond embrace;
I love your hair when the strands enmesh
Your kisses against my face.

Not for me the cold, calm kiss
Of a virgin’s bloodless love;
Not for me the saint’s white bliss,
Nor the heart of a spotless dove.
But give me the love that so freely gives
And laughs at the whole world’s blame,
With your body so young and warm in my arms,
It sets my poor heart aflame.

So kiss me sweet with your warm wet mouth,
Still fragrant with ruby wine,
And say with a fervor born of the South
That your body and soul are mine.
Clasp me close in your warm young arms,
While the pale stars shine above,
And we’ll live our whole young lives away
In the joys of a living love.


Stanza 1:

The first stanza describes the speaker's love for their partner's physical attributes. The wet and wine-red lips, the eyes lit with passion, the warm white flesh of their arms, and the strands of hair that brush against the speaker's face all evoke desire and affection.

Stanza 2:

The second stanza expresses the speaker's preference for love that is passionate and freely given. The speaker rejects cold and passionless love, instead desiring a love that disregards societal judgment. The warmth and youthfulness of their partner's body ignite intense feelings in the speaker.

Stanza 3:

The third stanza emphasizes the physicality of love. The speaker requests a kiss from their partner's warm and fragrant mouth, symbolizing a union of their souls and bodies. The image of being held close while the stars shine above signifies a complete immersion in the joys of a vibrant and fulfilling love.

Major Themes

Passionate Love: The poem explores the theme of passionate and sensual love. It celebrates the intense physical attraction between the speaker and their partner, emphasizing the power of desire and the fulfillment found in a passionate relationship.

Rejection of Conventional Love: The poem rejects traditional notions of love associated with purity and innocence. Instead, it embraces a love that is bold, uninhibited, and unafraid of societal judgment.

The Joy of Living Love: The poem highlights the joy and vitality found in a deeply felt and reciprocal love. It suggests that true fulfillment is attained by embracing love with enthusiasm and surrendering to its pleasures.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

  1. Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was an American author and poet.
  2. She gained popularity for her poetry collections, which often focused on themes of love, optimism, and spirituality.
  3. Wilcox's most famous poem is "Solitude," which gained widespread recognition and remains one of her best-known works.
  4. Her writing career spanned several decades, and she published numerous books, essays, and poems.
  5. Wilcox's works often embraced themes of love, personal growth, and the power of positive thinking.
  6. She was a prolific writer, with her poems appearing in various publications and anthologies.

Critical Analysis

Analysis: "I Love You" is a passionate and emotive poem that captures the intensity of romantic love. The language is vivid and evocative, drawing attention to the physical aspects of the speaker's affection. The poem employs a consistent AABB rhyme scheme, enhancing its musicality and rhythmic flow. Sound devices such as alliteration and repetition contribute to the poem's aesthetic appeal.

The poem "I Love You" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox celebrates the passionate and physical nature of love. Through vivid descriptions and emotive language, Wilcox conveys the speaker's intense desire and affection for their partner. The rejection of conventional and passionless love underscores the poem's emphasis on embracing passion and following one's desires. The consistent rhyme scheme and effective use of sound devices contribute to the poem's musicality. "I Love You" reminds readers of the power of love to ignite passion and bring joy to life.


  • Wet lips and red with wine: Symbolize desire and heightened passion.
  • Warm young arms: Represent the comfort and intimacy of physical embrace.
  • Stars shining above: Signify the enduring and celestial nature of love.


  • Vivid and evocative language: Enhances the portrayal of passionate love and sensory experiences.
  • Descriptive adjectives: Convey the speaker's intense emotions and physical attraction.


  • AABB rhyme scheme: Creates a consistent and pleasing rhythm throughout the poem.

Sound devices

  • Alliteration: Adds musicality and emphasis to certain lines.
  • Repetition: Reinforces key phrases and heightens their impact.

Other Literary Devices

  • Imagery: The poem utilizes vivid imagery to paint a sensual picture of love and desire.
  • Hyperbole: Exaggeration is employed to emphasize the speaker's passion and the transformative power of love.


  • Intense desire: The speaker's love is characterized by strong physical desire and passionate longing.
  • Rejection of societal norms: The poem challenges conventional expectations of love and celebrates a more liberated and sensual approach.
  • Joyful surrender: The speaker finds immense joy and fulfillment in fully embracing and indulging in their love.

Similar Poems

  • "Wild Nights – Wild Nights!" by Emily Dickinson: Both poems explore the passionate and intense nature of love, emphasizing the longing and desire between lovers.
  • "How Do I Love Thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Both poems celebrate love's intensity and present a fervent expression of affection.
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