Wednesday, February 1, 2012
February 2012 Challenge - A Love Poem
Here in the United States, Valentine’s Day is coming soon, so thoughts turn to love. My Aunt Ersel and Uncle Laird got married on Valentine’s Day, which always seemed very romantic to me. They had a wonderfully romantic marriage, which lasted the rest of their lives.
In most cultures of the world, poems of love are about as old as poetry itself. You can still read love poetry from ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, ancient India, etc., etc. etc. Poetry seems to be a uniquely appropriate way to convey love for another person.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed her love for Robert Browning in a series of sonnets, published later as Sonnets from the Portuguese. The 43rd sonnet is a special favorite of many people.
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 everyday'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 a 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 (1806-1861)
Note that this sonnet is not just a discussion of love; it is addressed to the beloved. That is true, also of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, another love poem.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
~ William Shakespeare
Love poems do not have to begin, as do these two sonnets, with questions. And of course, love poems do not have to be sonnets, nor do they have to use the elevated language of Browning and Shakespeare. So many love poems have been written over the centuries that it is not easy to come up with a creative approach that has not already been used.
A contemporary poet, Marvin Bell, found a very unique and attention-getting way to begin a long poem to his wife. “To Dorothy” begins
You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
"To Dorothy," from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000, published by Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2000 by Marvin Bell. You can also find the poem at http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20932
When I decided to write a love poem to my husband, I decided to work off of a metaphor which I had not seen used for a relationship. Here is my love poem:
Maybe you think I keep you
like I keep my old shoes
because I can't bear
to break in new ones
but that's not the reason.
After all these years
you’re still a good fit,
still polished to a shine
in my eyes.
I want to be laced up with you
as long as I live.
~ Wilda Morris
(First published in Grab-a-Nickel, Fall/Winter 2004-2005, p. 12).
Yep, the picture at the top is from our wedding, August 31, 1963.
The February Poetry Challenge
Read these directions carefully! The poetry challenge for February is to write a love letter in poetic form: a poem addressed to someone you love; a poem which expresses your love in a unique way. You may write a formal poem or free verse. If formal, please specify the form. The deadline is February 15. Poems submitted after the February 15 deadline will not be considered. Since this is 2012, do not use antique language (such as “thee” and “thou”) unless it is absolutely required by the poem itself.
Copyright on poems is retained by their authors.
Due to formatting restrictions on the blog, all poems should be left justified. As much as I would enjoy a heart-shaped poem, I am unable to publish indentations, shaped poems or even extra spaces between words or phrases.
Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.
How to Submit Your Poem:
Send your poem to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for [dot]. Be sure provide your e-mail address. Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name, exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win, at the end of the poem.
© 2012 Wilda Morris