Today is St. Valentines day, and inspired by poet Emily Blewitt who has posted some of her favourite love poems, here a few of my own favourites.
The first is by Robin Robertson, better know, I would suggest, for his powerfully visceral and dark re-writes of classical myths such as the death of Acteon.
This poem, Primavera is a simply beautiful poem expressing his love for his daughter Kate.
I don’t have a link to the second poem. It is from Rory Waterman’s Carcanet collection, ‘Tonight the Summer’s Over ‘ and is called ‘In the Avenue of Limes.’
I have had the pleasure of reading with Rory several times, and we launched our first collection’s together in Nottingham. At Rory’s suggestion we each
read one of the others poems. I chose this one to read, for among other things its setting ( the lovers are in the National Arboretum) but mostly for it’s wonderful
repeated coda as we leave the couple in the eponymous avenue where’ autumn was falling/ in ceaseless drifts of twos/and fours..’ and ‘ I lost myself in you/
dashing to clutch at flurries/ of washed-out hearts. Dashing/ to clutch at flurries of washed-/ out hearts. Dashing to clutch/ at flurries of washed-out hearts.’
I love the Frank O’Hara’s 1959 poem, ‘Having a Coke with you’ I’m not going to explain why (does anyone need to explain why they love a Frank O’Hara poem?) except to say I think it is brave and again, beautiful. Here is Frank reading it.
I discovered Dannie Abse’s ‘Epithalmion’ when I was researching poems to read on an evening where, with two other poets, I selected and read some favourite love poems in a restaurant.
Dinner was included in the price and we had a wonderful evening! I don’t recall exactly what I selected, but I know it I loved Abse’s poem at first sight. I also challenged myself to read John Donne’s ‘The Sun Rising’ over the profiteroles.
As we all discover if we are lucky, love is not just for the young. This poem is by the late great Tom Duddy who, before his premature death, published some wonderful poems with Happenstance.
Sometimes, when she and I find ourselves
seated just inside the door of the hotel bar,
two or three young women will come prancing in,
all innocence, high-booted glamour, and
dark-eyed casting about, and she must wonder
out of the corner of her eye if I may not be
taking in too much. If she only knew
what a heavenly and carnal peace I feel
as my thoughts withdraw from the bare,
emblazoned backs and sweep down towards
her dear pale hands at rest in her lap, one
cupped inside the other, palm resting open.
No women poets so far. Here is the marvellous Clare Pollard. This poem is from her collection ‘Changeling’
The Caravan .
And here is Miroslav Holub’s ‘Love’. This poem hit me as something completely different. I was a thirteen year old, not particularly interested in poetry. I still love it.
I love ‘Night in Arizona’ by Sarah Howe for it’s quiet, delicate and intense intimacy.
Then there is Edwin Morgan’s sexy ‘Strawberries’ ! And a poem by Maria Taylor that I can’t find at the moment. And ‘Before you Came’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. And ‘Nativity’ by Sheri Benning .But time is running out and I must away before the clock strikes again and so finally, because Emily got me started on this, here is one of her poems, featured here in January 2015.
My Colours, by Emily Blewit
First, on my right forearm, a peacock in jade and gold
so when I flick my wrist its feathers unfold
and fan out like the winning hand at cards;
On my left breast, in oyster-grey,
beats the anatomical diagram of a heart;
A tiger’s fierce orange and black stripes stalk my back
to hide the scars, while in plain sight
between my shoulder blades two white wings take off;
On my collarbone a cicada sings
in yellow glory to crimson catkins;
On my right breast, Blodeuwedd, the owl girl with amber eyes
becomes lilac, lavender, foxgloves, daisies,
and above my womb the moon waits in all her phases;
Coiled around my inner thigh a snake hisses, bottle-green,
while at my hips, macaws kiss;
On my right foot, a greyhound sprints straight off the blocks;
At my left heel curls a brown hare and an orange fox;
A mandala in Indian sand circles my elbow;
On my ring finger glitters a diamond in rose gold;
I am strawberry blonde and oriental raven,
an ephemera of red kites wheeling through stormy skies;
Love, when I show you my colours
I am a riot, a cacophony, a bird of paradise, a polka
on mosaic tiles, a gilded kingfisher diving blue.