“What Love Looks Like” by Rupi Kaur, a Literary Analysis

Hello blog world, and welcome back! I know last time I made out like I’d be dedicating senior year towards analyzing song lyrics. Frankly, that was the plan. I was fully prepared and committed to analyzing nothing but my favorite songs for the entirety of this year; it’s what was comfortable. But, life had other plans, revealed to me in the form of the poetry book “the sun and her flowers” by Rupi Kaur. 

I found this book by coincidence in a Barnes and Noble during a gathering with friends this past Sunday, and I’ve fallen in love with it ever since I started reading it. I flew through the first section the morning I started, unable to put it down. One poem in particular stood out to me in this section. “what love looks like” is my favorite piece by Kaur so far, and it absolutely earned this week’s analysis. 

For the sake of word count, I will only analyze my favorite lines. But for context, I’ll link the full piece here: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8834467-what-love-looks-like-what-does-love-look-like-the

(This was the only online copy I could find; I also have the physical copy I’ll be happy to let you borrow!) 

“that’s when it hit me
and i realized how naive i had been
to place an idea so beautiful on the image of a person
as if anybody on this entire earth
could encompass all love represented
as if this emotion seven billion people tremble for
would look like a five foot eleven
medium-sized brown-skinned guy
who likes eating frozen pizza for breakfast”

Honestly, this entire stanza is one of the greatest examples of literary perfection I’ve ever seen. The rawness and perfected honesty/bluntness that Rupi uses when she describes this realization captures the way it occurs perfectly. Learning that all of your preconceived notions of love will never match any real life experience you have with it is one of the hardest lessons one can learn. It’s something that poisons and kills entire relationships if not fully realized, and one of the most painful but beautiful realizations one can come to. There is a tragic beauty in realizing the love you dream of and the love you receive will never align, and Rupi captures it perfectly, particularly with the lines “As if anybody on this entire earth could encompass all love represented”. Actual perfection. 

“i don’t think love is him anymore i repeat
i think love never was
i think i just wanted something
was ready to give myself to something
i believed was bigger than myself
and when i saw someone
who probably fit the part
i made it very much my intention
to make him my counterpart”

This stanza is also perfect in the way it describes what happens when you enter a relationship with preconceived notions of love still in tact: you lose yourself. You’re willing to go to any length, do anything to find what you think is love, and it drains you. You find someone who “Probably fits the part” and you “make it very much your intention to make him your counterpart”. It’s a tragedy to watch and awful to endure, but it’s an important lesson some of us have to learn, and Rupi doesn’t shy away from that. With this stanza and these lines, she shows us the actions of someone who is trying to love the idea of love rather than the person in front of them, and how it feels. And that is something even the best of writers struggle to convey. 

“love does not look like a person
love is our actions
love is giving all we can
even if it’s just the bigger slice of cake
love is understanding
we have the power to hurt one another
but we are going to do everything in our power
to make sure we don’t
love is figuring out all the kind sweetness we deserve
and when someone shows up
saying they will provide it as you do
but their actions seem to break you
rather than build you
love is knowing who to choose”

This is the final stanza, and the most fitting conclusion I have ever seen to a work of literature. This stanza truly takes my breath away, because it perfectly encompasses the learning of how to actually love someone. The journey of learning to love yourself before others is a long, tiring, and treacherous one, and this line does something not many writers can do: captures the end result. “Love does not look like a person; love is our actions; love is knowing who to choose”. These lines are the single purest truth I’ve ever seen put down on paper, and something I hope every single one of us learns wholeheartedly someday. 

Well, that’s all the word count I have to rant about this lovely little poem! I seriously urge all of you to check out the full piece, and other works by Rupi Kaur if you’re interested. I promise, you won’t regret reading a single thing of hers! Until next time blog world! 

Sincerely, someone trying to give up the bigger slice of cake. 


Author: Hunter Nix

God may have put me on this earth, but Alan Rickman can certainly take me off it if I tarnish his name any further.