Even though "The Guitarist Tunes Up" is about, well, a guitarist tuning up, there's that comparison to "a man with a loved woman." In fact, when you look for it, the theme of love runs throughout the entire poem. True, the entire poem is only 8 lines long, but still, it's there. And in this poem, love seems to be all about good communication. After all, the success of the guitarist's tune-up relies on a good ear as he listens to his instrument. And what loving relationship doesn't depend on a good ear, too?
"The Guitarist Tunes Up" is not a poem about romantic love. Cornford compares the guitarist to the couple in love to give us a stronger sense of the passion the musician feels for his music and the instrument that allows him to play it.
The title of this poem is a big, fat lie. "The Guitarist Tunes Up" is a love poem disguised as a poem about a guitar player. Nice try, Frances.
Okay all you ladies out there, how do you feel about this poem? Is there anything about "The Guitarist Tunes Up" that has you feeling a little ticked off? How do you feel about being, figuratively speaking, the guitar? Not lovin' it? That could be a reaction to the poem's mid 20th century notion of what it was to be a woman, which is to say—not much. Back in ye olden times (okay, sixty years ago), women were often objectified in the name of love. Need an example? Oh, how about being compared to a guitar?
Despite her qualifying description, "Not as a lordly conqueror," Cornford's depiction of femininity and male-female relationships still places the woman in a subservient position reflecting mid 20th century societal norms.
In terms of describing male-female interaction from a female perspective, "The Guitarist Tunes Up" is basically like a mid 20th century version of Sex in the City.
"The Guitarist Tunes Up" is only eight lines long, but it manages to dive deep into the murky waters of male-female relationships and notions of masculinity in its short span. While some aspects of the poem might feel a little dated, Cornford seems to be a bit ahead of her time in some respects. Depending on how much you squint, she could be challenging some of the mid 20th century notions of masculinity in this one, even, perhaps, going as far as to prescribe that a man should show (gulp) his softer side.
"The Guitarist Tunes Up" suggests that quietude and attentiveness are more prized masculine qualities than a conqueror's commanding brawn.
The he in the poem is a dog in sheep's clothing. He might not be acting like a "conqueror," but his goal is the same. He still wants to assert his masculine will over the female.
Poetry and music go together like, well, you get the picture. Sound and musicality are a big deal in poetry, so a poem about a musician and his instrument kind of makes sense. In "The Guitarist Tunes Up," the preparation and performance clearly have a big impact on the speaker. Like most art forms, music has the ability to transport us and to make us see the world a little differently. In this case, Cornford may have seen some similarities between the process of creating music and her own creative process.
Music often inspires artists working in other mediums. "The Guitarist Tunes Up" is an example of a poem that could not have been written without the inspiration offered by music and musicians.
Despite its title, music is a secondary concern in "The Guitarist Tunes Up." Cornford could have written the same poem using a painter and his paintbrush as comparison points. What inspired the poem was the creative energy and passion that is present in almost any artistic pursuit.