Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!--Favorite Poetry

In honor of the Day of Lovers, I want to post some of my favorite love poems. The first is Lord Byron's She Walks in Beauty.

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!

Keeping with the Romantics, I'm always moved by the simplicity and elegance of Samuel T. Coleridge's Presence of Love.

And in Life's noisiest hour,
There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,
The heart's Self-solace and soliloquy.

You mould my Hopes, you fashion me within ;
And to the leading Love-throb in the Heart
Thro' all my Being, thro' my pulses beat ;
You lie in all my many Thoughts, like Light,
Like the fair light of Dawn, or summer Eve
On rippling Stream, or cloud-reflecting Lake.
And looking to the Heaven, that bends above you,
How oft ! I bless the Lot, that made me love you.

Of course, love isn't always sweet and roses, no matter what Hallmark will have you believe on February 14. That's why I also love Pablo Naruda, who can also capture the chaos and passion of love. Here's I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

Neruda's Sonnet XI is also another poem that really punches me in the gut.

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Finally, I want to show you just how hot and intense poetry can be. This is a short clip from the BBC. Damian Lewis is reciting To His Coy Mistress. You better believe I drew on this clip for inspiration when we were writing A Hidden Beauty. It's so hot, I draw on this clip for inspiration for a lot of things.

And who can forget William the Bloody?
My heart expands
'tis grown a bulge in it
inspired by your beauty, effulgent.


M said...

Lol. I took a course on the mechanics of poetry and "She Walks in Beauty" was one of the poems we analyzed. In a totally random aside, our professor told us Lord Byron wrote the poem about his cousin. He saw her at a funeral one day and she just looked so foxy in mourning attire that a poem was born.

It doesn't matter. I still love the poem XD

Another one of my favorite love-themed poems was a Shakespeare sonnet. I forget which one, because they only have numbers and no titles. It was about how his mistress is not a goddess and not perfect, but he still loves her all the same.

And that clip is hot! His voice...


Pepper Espinoza said...

It's Sonnet 130. "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun..."

It's tricky to believe some of the things you hear about Byron. On the one hand, he did do some "strange" things (including fall in love with his half-sister and later, a Greek boy), but some of the stories that circulated about him were fabricated the way rumors get made up and circulated about any celebrity. And Byron was a huge celebrity in his day. In literary circles, even now, just make reference to The Divorce, and everybody will know what you're talking about.

Cathy said...

Love, loved that video. He did such a great job making it passionate, intense and erotic.