Love Poems: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Personal Weblog of Edward W. Farrell   
Love Poems: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Monday, May 30, 2022
I'm going to try to post a few love poems over the next few days. Love poems? Some of these may not look like love poems so I'll have to explain. There's nothing here that resembles the love of Christ, for instance. Christ's love is where you go when you finally remember who you are--as God intended you to be, that is. But this is getting hit by a freight train that  travels down a set of tracks most of us scrupulously avoid.

The love we normally fall into is also a freight train but it's a train you're far more likely to get kicked off when you least expect it, and that's when you discover that love leads not to remembrance but to forgetfulness of a very nasty sort--you don't even remember who you are because that person left with the one you loved and lost. This makes you a living paradox---more than anything else you want to regain that lost love while at the same time doing everything possible to avoid ever repeating the experience. Now you're the booby-trap to any innocent lover who happens to cross your path.

Here's Anna Akhmatova and Sappho, who speak eloquently to this view:

by Anna Akhmatova

Now, like a little snake, it curls into a ball,
Bewitching your heart,
Then for days it will coo like a dove
On the little white windowsill.
Or it will flash as bright frost,
Drowse like a gillyflower...
But surely and stealthily it will lead you away
From joy and from tranquility.
It knows how to sob so sweetly
In the prayer of a yearning violin,
And how fearful to divine it
In a still unfamiliar smile.

---translated by Judith Hemschemeyer

by Sappho

He seems to be a god; that man
Facing you, who leans to be close,
Smiles, and, alert and glad, listens
To your mellow voice

And quickens in love at your laughter
That stings my breasts, jolts my heart
If I dare the shock of a glance.
I cannot speak,

My tongue sticks to my dry mouth,
Thin fire spreads beneath my skin,
My eyes cannot see and my aching ears
Roar in their labyrinths.

Chill sweat glides down my back,
I shake, I turn greener than grass.
l am neither living nor dead and cry
From the narrow between.

---translated by Guy Davenport

Still, love poetry covers a pretty wide gamut. At one end there's this:

"To dream of Layla Majnun prayed for sleep."

---from an untitled poem by Sadi (translated by Basil Bunting)

And at the other end there's this:

"I have sung women in three cities
But it is all one.
I will sing of the white birds
In the blue waters of heaven,
The clouds that are spray to its sea."

---from "Cino," by Ezra Pound

More to follow as I have time to post.

All site contents copyright 2022 Edward W. Farrell This page last updated on 2022-05-30