Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Poetry for a Valentine's Evening

Love. Our world is in love with love, with the idea of love, the feeling of love, the fairy-tale "happily ever after" love. And yet our ideas of love are very different. There are probably hundreds of poems written on love, but these are a few of my favorites, each setting forth an aspect of love.

What Shall I Give My Love?
~Sara Teasdale

I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love
It answered me with silence,
Silence above.

I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishes go
It answered me with silence,
Silence below.

Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him a song
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?

Sonnet CXVI (116)
~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-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height 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.

Vivien's Song
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

     'In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers;
     Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.

     'It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
     And ever widening slowly silence all.

     'The little rift within the lover's lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
     That rotting inward slowly moulders all.

     'It is not worth keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer darling, answer, no.
     And trust me not at all or all in all.'

The Love I Gave You Once
~Faiz Ahmed Faiz

My beloved,
My own,
Do not demand the love
I gave you once.

For a moment, I really believed
That you alone gave meaning
To my withered life;
That the accelerating pain
Of my enrequited love,
Would make me forget
All other torments
Of this troubled world;
That your face lent stability
To the restless spring;
That nothing else mattered
In this empty world
But your deep, seductive eyes.

This world of ours bleeds
With more pains than just the pain of love;
And many more pleasures beckon us all the time
Than just the fleeting pleasures of a reunion
with you.

For untold centuries,
The affluent have always woven many webs of intrigue,
Dark and cruel and mysterious,
And dressed them up in silks and brocades.
And for all these years,
On every street and in every bazaar,
Human bodies have been brazenly sold,
Dressed in dust and bathed in blood,
Malnourished, misshapen and baked by disease.

Time and time again,
My eyes are diverted
To this tragic scene.
Your beauty is alluring as ever,
Your arms inviting as always:
But how can I ever ignore
All this ugliness, all this pain?

Yes, my love,
This world of ours bleeds
With more pains that just the pain of love;
And many mroe pleasures beckon us all the time
Than just the fleeting pleasures of a reunion
with you.

My beloved, my own,
Do not demand the love
I gave you once.

Isaiah 43:1-4

But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not
overwhelm you;
when you walk through the fire you shall
not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.

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