Love poems: Flatly put, it's extremely hard to write a good one, since, as Art Durkee
notes in this post on subjectivity
, first-person love poems are inherently clichéd, since we've all written them, and most (if not all) of us in quantity. Still, let's not forget that there is always the strong to be had amongst the (larger) weak group. First, let's look at a wonderful take by Kate Light
Reading Someone Else's Love Poems
is after all. All we've ever done
for centuries - except write them - but what
a strange thing it is, after all, rose cheeks and sun-
hair and lips, and underarms, and that little gut
I love to nuzzle on, soft underbelly - oops -
that wasn't what I meant to talk about;
ever since handkerchiefs fell, and hoop-
skirts around ankles swirled
and smiled, lovers have dreamed their loves upon
the pages, courted and schemed and twirled
And styled, hoping that once they'd unfurled their down-
deep longing, they would have their prize -
not the songs of love, but love beneath disguise.
By Kate Light
Very playful approach, but a powerful end couplet. It's sort of a pseudo-sonnet, with the title being the first line (seeings as to how it reads as such). The poem also shows good usage of hyphenated enjambments (e.g. sun-/hair, down-/deep). Speaking of which, down-/deep longing is a great inversion of the clichéd "deep-down longing".
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
By William Shakespeare
I originally encountered this poem courtesy of my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Hall (this one's for you!). The mistress in question is compared to others and found to be quite plain, but- the last couplet describes her as incomparable! Other than that, the music is nice, the rhymes natural. Now:
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
By T.S. Eliot
A very famous poem, and a favorite of mine (I'm memorizing it piece-by-piece right now). Linked because, well, it's long, and I don't want to mess with all that text. It's full of energy, not to mention mystery (rather hard to interpret *everything*). Now, one courtesy of Dan Schneider
You Are All Desire
My needs, they fall away from me. (Dull flesh-
can it convince itself?) They are: oxygen-
to flame each breath; sources of food and water-
to quell the instinctual ravening
brought by you; sources of clothing and shelter-
to protect my body from the world's duress.
My needs, they fall away from me. Not you,
my love, for you are verging on somethingness,
like the full beats of my growing heart, which falls
likewise itself, in infinite crashes
into conflagrations which are only all
that keeps my sonnetry in this small purview
which falls from me to you. Should you inquire:
You are not a need. You are all desire.
By Dan Schneider
The most modern of the approaches so far, it details true needs in the first stanza, then notes that the loved one in question is *not* a need, and yet, because of this, is "verging on somethingness"; wants are, in a sense, more prevalent than needs. Despite the importance of the loved one and the thrill gained from him/her (don't assume the narrator is the author!), he/she is realized as a want, not a need. Hopefully I got that right (my interpretations can be shoddy sometimes), but regardless, it's a great sonnet.LAEvaside: If the analysis seems a bit much for some of you, it's partly for readers less used to reading poetry, and partly practice for myself. Yes, poems explain themselves better than any summarization. At least, good ones do. [/laevaside]
I considered posting a love poem of my own, but, despite its strengths in music and end inversion, I feel it's rather cliché in certain parts and forced in one portion. Don't worry, though: I'll eventually get back to you with a love poem (in another post).