The monsoon has made a comeback with a bang and rain can be so inspiring for writers and to pen down immortal verses of love. To get you into the romantic mode for the season, the post has a selection of 8 love poems to get you to open up your heart to that special someone. Don’t expect to find in the list the oft repeated ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ (which though beautiful is too often listed in almost all collections and one should give other poems a chance as well, don’t you think so?) or ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” (Again, the same argument).
The list will obviously be woefully incomplete. You can comment your favourite lines or favourite poems and add to the list. Feel free to share!
1) Love’s Philosophy
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—
See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
This is a short and succinct and clever poem arguing for the meeting of two loves.
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Whatever you’ve got lined up,
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can’t be signed up
This year, next year will do.
heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
From her collection,Two Cures For Love:Selected Poems, it is one of the many poems is deals with love in her best comic way possible. Try and read her other comic, sarcastic takes on love as well.
3) The Ecstasy
Where, like a pillow on a bed
A pregnant bank swell’d up to rest
The violet’s reclining head,
Sat we two, one another’s best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string;
So to’intergraft our hands, as yet
Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.
As ‘twixt two equal armies fate
Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
Were gone out) hung ‘twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin’d
That he soul’s language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take
And part far purer than he came.
This ecstasy doth unperplex,
We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix’d souls doth mix again
And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
Of what we are compos’d and made,
For th’ atomies of which we grow
Are souls, whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
Our bodies why do we forbear?
They’are ours, though they’are not we; we are
The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses’ force to us,
Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven’s influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers’ souls descend
T’ affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great prince in prison lies.
To’our bodies turn we then, that so
Weak men on love reveal’d may look;
Love’s mysteries in souls do grow,
But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
Small change, when we’are to bodies gone.
No one can argue as well as Donne about the importance of spiritual and physical love between a pair of lovers. More of our contemporary Indian religious folks would do good if they thought like this as well. Suffused with sensual imagery, its one of my favourite poems
Until I found you,
I wrote verse, drew pictures,
And, went out with friends
Now that I love you,
Curled like an old mongrel
My life lies, content, In you….
Mostly known for writing about the hollowness of relationships between man and woman, this one is a gem: sweet, simple, and content.
5) As A Perfume
As a perfume doth remain
In the folds where it hath lain,
So the thought of you, remaining
Deeply folded in my brain,
Will not leave me: all things leave me:
Other thoughts may come and go,
Other moments I may know
That shall waft me, in their going,
As a breath blown to and fro,
Fragrant memories: fragrant memories
Come and go.
Only thoughts of you remain
In my heart where they have lain,
Perfumed thoughts of you, remaining,
A hid sweetness, in my brain.
Others leave me: all things leave me:
– Arthur Symons
Influences by the Symbolism movement in France and the Decadence Era of the 1890s, Symons in this poem has also vividly used the effect of senses-memories, smell etc to say how his love will always remain.
6)Marriages Are Made
My cousin Elena is to be married
The formalities have been completed:
her family history examined for T.B.
and madness her father declared solvent
her eyes examined for squints her teeth for cavities
her stools for the possible
She’s not quite tall enough
and not quite full enough
(children will take care of that)
Her complexion it was decided would compensate,
being just about the right shade
of rightness to do justice
to Francisco X. Noronha Prabhu
good son of Mother Church. –
Eunice de Souza
And this is sadly how love is usually accepted in India: through the anachronistic mechanism of arranged marriage and as the poem rightly shows it is a system that treats the girl as nothing but a product having certain materialistic characteristics. Eunice de Souza is the one writer in India who like, Wendy Cope, uses sarcasm and dark humour to showcase the irony of things we often take for granted.
7) A Statue of Eros (Zenodotus)
Who carved Love
and placed him
by this fountain,
thinking he could control
such fire with water?
-(translated from Greek byPeter Jay)
A concise, precise sharp poem.
We are a meadow where the bees hum,
mind and body are almost one
as the fire snaps in the stove
and our eyes close,
and mouth to mouth,
the covers pulled over our shoulders,
we drowse as horses drowse afield, in accord;
though the fall cold surrounds our warm bed,
and though by day we are singular and often lonely.
– Denise Levertov
Not many know about this writer but she has some of the empathetic, sensitive poems that deal with a range of topics from love, marriage, Vietnam war etc. I love this poem as it closely marks the intimacy of lovers at night, in bed.
Well if this is not enough, then here are some other poems you can take a look at:
1) Resignation by Nikki Giovanni (it is an unabashed declaration of love)
2) The Clod and the Pebble by William Blake (Again, a succinct and precise argument in favour of love)
3) Delight in Disorder by Robbert Herrick (depicts the physical passion of love) (The cavalier poets are a delight to read because of their open way of dealing with love with none of the shyness of the previous poets)
4)Lover’s Infiniteness by John Donne
5)You by Carol Ann Duffy
6) Pablo Neruda poems
7) Shakespeare sonnets
8)Unclaimed by Vikram Seth
This list can go on and on and on…so add some more poems you like/love/detest. Comment away and make the list even longer. Hope you enjoyed this post!