Happy Valentine's Day. Today is a day for romance, long stemmed red roses, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, dinner reservations and love poems. What poet in love hasn't given a try at writing a love poem? Poetry simply lends itself to expressions of passion and romance. The coffee mug I use at the office has a quote on the side, "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet." Plato
Love poems range from teen angst, sappy Hallmark rhymes, classic sonnets and everything between. Love has been a dominant topic of poetry since before the written word. What new can one say? I think love poems are amongst the most deadly traps for the cliché. One of the first poems I attempted to write was a love poem comparing love to a red rose, how original is that?
The challenge for the contemporary poet is to avoid the abstract and touch on the unique, an intimate moment that makes the heart flutter..
Do you remember the red boots
and the muddy puddle?
I remember the splash you made
with the crowd, the laughter
that colours my days.
Even the frame of the poem contributes to the theme. The sonnet seems to be love's vehicle for the classics. But love poems have taken on all shapes and sizes. Probably the best known of all love sonnets comes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861, what English speaker wouldn’t recognize the first line of this sonnet?
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 every day’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 the 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.
~~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
So where ever you are in life and love, your words can share your journey.
You still could not figure out how I found the path again through this
Visual confusion of green leaves, brown sticks, and open spaces.
You wondered, did you ever leave a glow on the broken branches,
or your scent lingering, afloat in the air, like a trail?
Or was there a code in the chirping of birds or a signal from sunlight
Breaking through the canopy, you, lit up from head to toe?
You wondered still if ever I envisioned you a fairy, rising from a stream
Flowing quietly, slowly, and you emerging wet, mysterious and sensual?
Let my fingers touch your lips, enough of your wondering,
For the sensations you left in this body, this skin, and these lips
Are memories swirling in my pool of recall, for I wanted to catch
Again those eyes where delight once undeniably dwelt.
~~ Joel Josel
An Old Cliché, Love
Backs to the sea
as the sunsets on our lives
bound by a pledge
and a ring.
Our feet firmly
planted on the shore
we lock fingers
to steady each other
on the shifting sand
and face forward
for one more adventure,
to watch our last sunrise
~~Judi Van Gorder
Even if you are between loves, nursing a broken heart or currently just feeling left out of the whole romance and roses thing, give this one day a chance. If you have a favorite love poem or want to share one of your own, please post it here. My hope for each of you is that you have many love poems in you waiting for that moment to burst free.
~~Tinker aka Judi Van Gorder