Do not panic or worry after you are done reading “Lady Love” by French poet Paul Eluard and understand not even a single line of the poem. It is a surreal poem that is bound to make anyone perplexed.
Lady Love is a poem that expresses the kind of love that takes control. But there are more subtleties here that need careful examination under a magnifying glass.
There are a lot of complex ideas to unpack. Let’s take a look at the poem and then at the analysis. Since it is a surreal poem, there can be multiple interpretations as well.
Lady Love by Paul Éluard
She is standing on my eyelids And her hair is in my hair She has the color of my eye She has the body of my hand In my shade she is engulfed As a stone against the sky She will never close her eyes And she does not let me sleep And her dreams in the bright day Make the suns evaporate And me laugh cry and laugh Speak when I have nothing to say
Meaning of the Poem
From giving a preliminary read, we do understand that the poet is talking about a woman and how she is associated with him. We do not know the relationship between the poet and this woman.
But is the poet talking about an actual woman? The way he describes the positions and the qualities of the woman appears more of an idea than a person.
Let’s divide the poem into different parts and look at its meaning and then at the overall meaning of the entire poem.
She is standing on my eyelids
And her hair is in my hair
She has the color of my eye
She has the body of my hand
The first part of the poem is about the attributes of this woman. The poet never takes her name, just tells the readers that it is a woman. But what does “standing on my eyelids” mean?
Each of these lines represents that this woman is not actually there where the poet says she is, but it is the idea of the woman, the thoughts of the woman.
The poet’s eyes always have the image of this woman, and she is so close to him that her hair is in her hair. Her color is the color of his eyes and she has the body of his hand.
All these lines indicate that the woman is inside the heart of this man. She is in his thoughts and imagination. “She has the color of my eye” shows that wherever he sees, he can find this woman.
In my shade she is engulfed
As a stone against the sky
These two lines are very important to the poem as you will find out later. The poet says that he has engulfed this woman entirely. She is covered with his shade, like the sky covers a stone.
As already established, she lives in his thoughts, so it is natural that she will be “engulfed” by the poet. But in the next part, readers will find something completely different.
It is not that the poet has engulfed and overshadowed the idea of this lady, but quite the opposite. She has started taking over him mentally and emotionally.
She will never close her eyes
And she does not let me sleep
“She will never close her eyes’ means that her thoughts never cease. He is constantly thinking about her. She does not tire and she does not let his mind rest. This part shows the maniacal part of this image.
And her dreams in the bright day
Make the suns evaporate
And me laugh cry and laugh
Speak when I have nothing to say
The final part of the poem is not only the most important part as it concludes the poem in somewhat definite terms, but it also shows the haunting and scary part of the whole ordeal.
In the beginning, when the poem started, it felt like a poem about love, and how the woman is always in his imagination. But that idea grew and turned malignant.
The poet says that this incessant imagination of this woman makes the sun evaporate, taking away the brightness from the day, and makes him laugh, then cry, and then laugh again.
This description does not sound romantic at all. It sounds traumatic, a person on the verge of mania and insanity. The constant presence of this woman in his mind is turning him insane.
At the end of the line, the poet says that she makes him speak when he has nothing to say at all. This line ends the poem and what a dark note that is.
The Idea Behind the Poem
There can be many interpretations of this poem, but the positive ones are the far-fetched ones for sure. The poem is about the dark and negative side of love, or perhaps, obsession.
The speaker of the poem is talking about these thoughts of a woman that keeps on growing in his mind and while at first, he says that it is he who overshadows her thoughts, we find out that quite the opposite is true.
Slowly as the poem progresses we find out that the speaker is going insane. He is saying things even when he has nothing to say, and her thoughts are making the sun evaporate. Even in the daytime, I cannot see anything clearly.
The poem takes ideas from the themes of obsession, madness, love in its twisted form, and the loss of sanity. Paul Eluard does not hold back in dipping into some very serious themes with his works.