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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?

-P.B. Shelley

This is a short and succinct and clever poem arguing for the meeting of two loves.

2) Valentine

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.

-Wendy Cope

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.
-John Donne

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

4)Love

Until I found you,

I wrote verse, drew pictures,

And, went out with friends

For walks…

Now that I love you,

Curled like an old mongrel

My life lies, content, In you….

-Kamala Das

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:

You remain.

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:

You remain.

– 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

non-Brahmin worm.

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.
8)Bedtime
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!

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While the monsoon slowly knocks at our doors, with gusts of wind, thunder and the cool breeze sweeping the moist, humid summer days, here’s a look at some poems to help you unwind as you sit indoors snug in an armchair, looking at the rain lashing on your window [and perhaps secretly happy that you are not out there being soaked! 😉 ]

 

1)      This is how we may all feel when the first rains arrive: grateful, joyful, and happy!

Rain In Summer

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs
Like the tramp of hoofs!
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!
Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

2)      Hasn’t the rain always been very inspiring? It inspires us to write, sing, dance, think, garden etc.

Breathable Creativity
i love de rain

rain cleans dust
from tired air

charges flat lined
polluted air space
swift rain cleaned

with vibrant
negative ions
rain inspires

breathable creativity

Terrence George Craddock

 

3)      Here’s a beautiful, thought provoking poem which uses rain beautifully as a metaphor:

Rain Song

Your eyes are two palm tree forests in early light,
Or two balconies from which the moonlight recedes
When they smile, your eyes, the vines put forth their leaves,
And lights dance . . . like moons in a river
Rippled by the blade of an oar at break of day;
As if stars were throbbing in the depths of them . . .

And they drown in a mist of sorrow translucent
Like the sea stroked by the hand of nightfall;

The warmth of winter is in it, the shudder of autumn,
And death and birth, darkness and light;
A sobbing flares up to tremble in my soul
And a savage elation embracing the sky,
Frenzy of a child frightened by the moon.

It is as if archways of mist drank the clouds
And drop by drop dissolved in the rain . . .
As if children snickered in the vineyard bowers,

The song of the rain
Rippled the silence of birds in the trees . . .
Drop, drop, the rain
Drip

Dropthe rain

Evening yawned, from low clouds

Heavy tears are streaming still.
It is as if a child before sleep were rambling on
About his mother (a year ago he went to wake her, did not find her,
Then was told, for he kept on asking,
“After tomorrow, she’ll come back again . . .
That she must come back again,

Yet his playmates whisper that she is there
In the hillside, sleeping her death for ever,
Eating the earth around her, drinking the rain;
As if a forlorn fisherman gathering nets
Cursed the waters and fate
And scattered a song at moonset,
Drip, drop, the rain
Drip, drop, the rain
Do you know what sorrow the rain can inspire?

Do you know how gutters weep when it pours down?

Do you know how lost a solitary person feels in the rain?
Endless, like spilt blood, like hungry people, like love,
Like children, like the dead, endless the rain.
Your two eyes take me wandering with the rain,
Lightning’s from across the Gulf sweep the shores of Iraq
With stars and shells,
As if a dawn were about to break from them, But night pulls over them a coverlet of blood. I cry out to the Gulf: “O Gulf,
Giver of pearls, shells and death!”
And the echo replies,
As if lamenting:
“O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death .

I can almost hear Iraq husbanding the thunder,
Storing lightning in the mountains and plains,
So that if the seal were broken by men
The winds would leave in the valley not a trace of Thamud.
I can almost hear the palmtrees drinking the rain,
Hear the villages moaning and emigrants
With oar and sail fighting the Gulf
Winds of storm and thunder, singing
“Rain . . . rain . . .

Drip, drop, the rain . . .
And there is hunger in Iraq,

The harvest time scatters the grain in-it,

That crows and locusts may gobble their fill,
Granaries and stones grind on and on,

Mills turn in the fields, with them men turning . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .

Drip
Drop
When came the night for leaving, how many tears we shed,

We made the rain a pretext, not wishing to be blamed
Drip, drop, the rain

Drip, drop, the rain

Since we had been children, the sky

Would be clouded in wintertime,

And down would pour the rain,
And every year when earth turned green the hunger struck us.
Not a year has passed without hunger in Iraq.
Rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
Drip, drop . . .
In every drop of rain
A red or yellow color buds from the seeds of flowers.
Every tear wept by the hungry and naked people
And every spilt drop of slaves’ blood
Is a smile aimed at a new dawn,
A nipple turning rosy in an infant’s lips
In the young world of tomorrow, bringer of life.

Drip…..
Drop….. the rain . . .In the rain.
Iraq will blossom one day ‘

I cry out to the Gulf: “O Gulf,
Giver of pearls, shells and death!”

The echo replies
As if lamenting:
‘O Gulf,
Giver of shells and death.”
And across the sands from among its lavish gifts
The Gulf scatters fuming froth and shells
And the skeletons of miserable drowned emigrants

Who drank death forever
From the depths of the Gulf, from the ground of its silence,
And in Iraq a thousand serpents drink the nectar
From a flower the Euphrates has nourished with dew.

I hear the echo
Ringing in the Gulf:
“Rain . . .
Drip, drop, the rain . . .
Drip, drop.”

In every drop of rain
A red or yellow color buds from the seeds of flowers.
Every tear wept by the hungry and naked people
And every spilt drop of slaves’ blood
Is a smile aimed at a new dawn,
A nipple turning rosy in an infant’s lips
In the young world of tomorrow, bringer of life.

And still the rain pours down.

Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab

Click here to know more about this neglected yet hugely talented poet.

4)      Here’s one humorous poem that is sure to get a smile on your face if the rains dampen your spirit:

A Kiss in the Rain

One stormy morn I chanced to meet
A lassie in the town;
Her locks were like the ripened wheat,
Her laughing eyes were brown.
I watched her as she tripped along
Till madness filled my brain,
And then–and then–I know ’twas wrong–
I kissed her in the rain!

With rain-drops shining on her cheek,
Like dew-drops on a rose,
The little lassie strove to speak
My boldness to oppose;
She strove in vain, and quivering
Her fingers stole in mine;
And then the birds began to sing,
The sun began to shine.

Oh, let the clouds grow dark above,
My heart is light below;
‘Tis always summer when we love,
However winds may blow;
And I’m as proud as any prince,
All honors I disdain:
She says I am her rain beau since
I kissed her in the rain.

Samuel Minturn Peck

To read some more such funny poems, click here!

5)      Ah, a drop of rain can truly invigorate Mother Nature. And who best to depict this than Emily Dickinson (known for her short lyrics on God, nature and religion)?

Summer Shower

A drop fell on the apple tree,
Another on the roof;
A half a dozen kissed the eaves,
And made the gables laugh.

A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!

The dust replaced in hoisted roads,
The birds jocoser sung;
The sunshine threw his hat away,
The orchards spangles hung.

The breezes brought dejected lutes,
And bathed them in the glee;
The East put out a single flag,
And signed the fete away.

Emily Dickinson

 

6)      Alas! For most of us city dwellers such natural rain washed pleasures are a rarity! We can’t behold them and so we find the beauty of the rains in our drab concrete jungle:

Rainy Nights

I like the town on rainy nights
When everything is wet –
When all the town has magic lights
And streets of shining jet!

When all the rain about the town
Is like a looking-glass,
And all the lights are upside-down
Below me as I pass.

In all the pools are velvet skies,
And down the dazzling street
A fairy city gleams and lies
In beauty at my feet.
Irene Thompson

 

 

7)      Whatever the environment: natural or urban, storm or drizzle; in the end we all love the rain!

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

 

8)      And here’s one for when you feel saddened by the rain’s departure. Just know that it will come again next year because (rephrasing Shelley) ‘If Summer comes, can Rain be far behind?’

After the Rain

Resurgent greens and stronger hues
combined within the colours in-between
will spring again, the reddish brown
has nearly gone and all the silver
greys erased in darker shades
that shine with slickly natured stains
after the gentle, gentle rain.

Clouded skies unite and demonize
the dry and dusty plight of days of brutal
beating sun and scathing wind,
the thin veneer is quickly peeled
and puddle-swamped in bloodied muddled
swirls of coloured slushy earth
that tinge the tracks of heavy wheels.

The welcome cold at first conceals its
damp and chilling steel, and in the icy
shades of night the frigid bite ignites
less welcome sentiments until the wrap
of insulation seals the warming heat,
sanctifies the stolid feet and frigid toes
with subtle sweep of warming blood.

And in the morning when the sun returns
to claim the earth the mist surprises, rising
unabashed and clean again to grace the
nascent waiting skies after the rain.

Ivan Donn Carswell

References:

1) http://www.poemsabout.com/rain/page-14/

2) http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/ivan_donn_carswell/poems/23081.html

3) http://www.mothergoosecaboose.com/rainpoems.html

4) http://www.jehat.com/Jehaat/en/Poets/BaderShakir.htm

5) Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems, Dover Thrift Edition, New York, 1990.

6) The Poem Tree: Book 7, Edited by Dean Gasper, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1998.

7) The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Selections by Jack Prelutsky, Random House, New York, 1983.

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