Tuesday, 14 February 2012

How Do I Love Thee? Let me Count the Poems...

Love, love, love. The most written about subject in poetry since poet first put quill to paper! Since it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a few love poems.

For those of you who aren't familiar with poetry, love poems aren't all cheesy. There's a lot more to them than 'roses are red, violets are blue....' squabble.

From classic Shakespeare - the infamous rhyming couplets of Romeo and Juliet and his 150+ infatuation sonnets - to the more traditional poems that worshipped the beloved from afar, to the besotted unrequited romance of Yeats played out in his oeuvre, to the more modern quirky lyrics dealing with love in all its modern guises, you'll find all kinds of  poems written through the ages to suit every elation, emotion, heartache, break and high of this thing we call Love.

I've just picked a few here from Penguin's Poems for Love, a great collection that chronicles love through the decades in all its forms and expressions. In the introduction, the editor explains: When we try to say exactly how we love someone, it's difficult to sum it up. Our feelings can be so powerful, and so personal to us, that we struggle to put them into words. But that's where poetry can help - for if one of the conditions of being in love is feeling somewhat lost for words, then perhaps one of the conditions of being a poet in love is a belief that the right words can and must be found.

Here are some of what I think are the 'right words' found by poets and beloved by masses.  Enjoy. (And please feel free to share/recommend your favourite love poems, I'd love to hear - there are so many out there!)

Happy Valentine's Day, 

~ Siobhán.

From the superlative and famous:  

How Do I Love Thee - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

To the classic definition: 

Sonnet 116 - William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

To the original, modern, witty and weird:

Valentine - Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart. 

I give you an onion. 
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. 
It promises light 
like the careful undressing of love

It will blind you with tears  
like a lover. 
It will make your reflection 
a wobbling photo of grief. 

I am trying to be truthful. 

Not a cute card or a kissogram. 

I give you an onion. 
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, 
possessive and faithful 
as we are, 
for as long as we are. 

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring, 
if you like. 

Its scent will cling to your fingers, 
cling to your knife. 

And finally, truly, madly, deeply, beautifully:
i carry your heart with me - EE Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

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