Poems on… Love

Love is perceived as the traditional muse of poetry. The experience of love is otherworldly; a rich, almost intoxicating emotion that makes one feel something like a god. Anne Sexton sums it up well in this stanza of her poem “When Man Enters Woman”:

This man,
this woman
with their double hunger,
have tried to reach through
the curtain of God
and briefly they have,

And the Ancient Greek poet Sappho also recorded its effect (You can find the poems of Sappho here):

Again love, the limb-loosener, rattles me
bittersweet,
irresistible,
a crawling beast.

Without further ado let us examine some of the great love poems.

Sonnet 116 by 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-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his heighth 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.

Shakespeare wrote many love sonnets… so what makes Sonnet 116 stand out? Whereas his other poems on the subject deal with love as an action and for an object,  Sonnet 116 deals directly with love as an ideal. In doing so the bard initially describes love as a remote idea, and he gradually makes it more tangible as the poem proceeds.

There is no reason for you to stop reading Shakespeare after Sonnet 116. You can find Shakespeares’ works on bidorbuy.

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Byron was the poster child of the Romantic movement and his philosophy carried over to his poetry. She Walks In Beauty stands in contrast to Shakespeare’s earlier sonnet as it concerns the qualities of love in a person whom the poet truly loves. Some consider it the finest poem about love that has been written in the English language.

You can find the works of Byron on bidorbuy.

The Morning Glory Climbs Above My Head from The Book of Songs

The morning glory climbs above my head,
Pale flowers of white and purple, blue and red.
I am disquieted.

Down in the withered grasses something stirred;
I thought it was his footfall that I heard.
Then a grasshopper chirred.

I climbed the hill just as the new moon showed,
I saw him coming on the southern road.
My heart lays down its load.

A beautiful translation from Book of Songs, a compilation of poetry written during the late Shang and Chou dynasty. This ancient poem beautifully illustrates the longing love that burns when two souls are parted.

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Laughed loud at her and me.

Edgar Allan Poe is renowned for the macabre quality of his fiction and for pioneering new genres of literature. He was also an accomplished poet and Annabell Lee is one of his best known poems. The child-like, fairy tale quality of the poem takes a dark turn later on:

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

A sorrowful moment, but the poem grows darker still. The final verse reveals the extremes to which love can sometimes go…

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

You can find the works of Edgar Allan Poe on bidorbuy.

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