First love is represented in different ways by different artists in their writings according to their own experiences. Different artists experience different things when they are growing up and their first loves are not always the opposite sex. Some felt the love from their parents was the most important, when they were young, others felt the love of their lovers was the most important. But no matter who the other person or persons were that influenced the artist as their first love, all of the artists' first loves were equally important. First loves are important to most artists, no matter how, when or who.
How first loves impacted the artists play a significant role in determining the lives of the artists and their topics of writing. In Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," Hayden writes about his father and the abandonment his family showed him even though he worked so hard to provide for them. Hayden writes, "...cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday blaze. No one ever thanked him" (590). Most artists observe the fact that they did not know of their first loves and do not realize their
mistakes with their first loves until they are grown up and are writing about it. It probably provides them with a good topic to start writing about in the first place. The lack of realization seems to be a powerful motivator in the lives of these artists. All of the artists in the readings seem to have gone through a period of lack of realization before wising up to what their experiences with their first loves meant. They probably did not know that their first loves were their first loves until later in their lives. In the case of Robert Hayden and Theodore Roethke, it took them their whole adolescent years to realize who their first loves were. But no matter how long or how they realized it, most of the artists were impacted greatly by their first loves or they would not devote their writing to it.
When artists realize their first loves differs greatly also. Some realize very quickly who, or what their first loves are, and some do not realize for a very long time. In A.E. Houseman's "When I Was One and Twenty," Houseman writes about his ignorance toward his first love. He writes about how ignorant he was toward the whole situation and how relatively quickly he realized that he should not have been overwhelmed by the whole experience. Houseman writes, "Give crowns and pounds and guineas But not your heart away....But I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me....And I
am two-and-twenty, And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true" (751). Houseman realizes only a year after his relationship what he went through and what impact the relationship had on his life. Other artists do not realize that soon what their first loves meant to them and what roles they played in their lives. Theodore Roethke writes, "At every step you missed, My right ear scraped a buckle" (758). This means that Roethke was very young to have been experiencing this and unless he was a child when he wrote "My Papa's Waltz," he did not realize his first love until he was much older. Some artists realize very early their first loves and some take a long time, but the point is that they all realize it sometime.
Not all artists' first loves were people. Nikki Giovanni's "Nikki-Rosa" is a piece that illustrates the fact that first loves are not always people. Giovanni's first love is her lifestyle as a child, and she does not realize what she has or had, until she grows up. Giovanni writes, "...all the while I was quite happy" (613). She writes that even though she seemed to not have the things that the people that seemed to have the most happiness had, she was quite happy with her first love, her childhood. Some other artists' first loves were their first girlfriend or maybe just one of their first girlfriends, and others' first loves were their father or maybe their mothers. In the case of
Roethke and Hayden, they realized much later in life that their fathers were their first loves and not their wives or girlfriends or what ever the case may be. Not all first loves are of the opposite sex, some are not even of the physical realm, but they all mean just the same to the individual who encounters them.
Artists first loves all seem to be important to their lives, no matter when they encounter them, how they encounter them, or who or what they are. An artists' opinion on what a first love is differs greatly and they all write about them in a different context. But they all end their relationships with their first loves with the same outcome: a love for the person or thing that influenced them, and the ability to realize their first love and learn from it. And all of the artists' first loves are represented in a loving way, with the love being shown in a positive light, as well as the writer showing his learning from the experience.