I have been doing the ‘Weekend Poem‘ feature for almost a year now, so rather than a new poem for this weekend, we’re rounding up a small collection of the love-related poems. It is the season for the birds and the bees, after all.
These are, however, not your run-of-the-mill poems on this much-hyped theme, as you’ll see below. And, while they come from different corners of the world and from poets who are very different, what unites them is their unique take on relationships. Perhaps, of the four poems below, the only one that could be called somewhat traditional and of its time is ‘The Letter’ by Charlotte Brontë. Even so, it is such a cinematically-stunning poem that it was, for its time, well ahead.
And some of the best love verses are found in the Arabic languages, don’t you think? Partly, this has to do with ancient lyrical verse traditions that make Arabic love poems almost song-like. But there is also something about the unabashed extravagance of metaphor and imagery that is employed to this day, even after free verse and contemporary Western influences have prevailed.
While not strictly a poem, Chitra is close enough to the lyrical form of Tagore’s poems that we may enjoy it as such. It is a one-act play and a love story based on one of the many stories in the Mahabharata (see below). When it first came out in English in 1914, it met with positive reviews as Tagore’s take on modern feminism, as this New York Times archive article described then.
Take this lovely poem by Charlotte Brontë, where she described, in such vivid detail, the writing of a letter. The poem is structured in three main parts. The first three stanzas paint a detailed scene of a young woman writing a letter at her desk on a summer evening. The fourth stanza in the middle is the transition, where Brontë gives us, as the readers of her poem, specific instructions as to where we next need to focus our attention. The third part – the last three stanzas – takes our gaze up and away from the desk so that we can take in clues regarding the intended recipient of the letter – first, through a shadowy picture in a gold frame and then, through a description of the geography that separates the two.
How does she do it? The sensual imagery and physicality of this poem don’t get any less intense with several re-readings. Although, “reading” doesn’t quite seem to be the right verb for it. This is not a poem you just read. You actually live it – the sight, sound, taste, smell and touch that it evokes are a physical experience.
Do share your favorite love poem in the comments section too.