Tonight I ask the question: what is love, and what is love poetry? Are poems about family and friendship love poems, just as much as those about romantic feeling, and longing, and heartbreak?
And even more: what is romantic love? What, for instance, did T. S. Eliot mean when he said, “Love is most nearly itself/When here and now cease to matter,” or when Emily Dickinson wrote of “Wild nights”?
The poems I read are:
- Ted Hughes (1930-1998), Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days
- Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), Bouquet of Belle Scavoir
- Katherine, Lady Dyer (c.1585-1654), Epitaph on Sir William Dyer
- Elizabeth Barret Browning (1806-1861), #43& #44in Sonnets from the Portuguese
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), #7from In Memoriam
- Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), Dover Beach
- Ruth Pitter (1897-1992), But for Lust
- Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001), One Flesh
- Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), #3 in Clearances
- Louise Glück (1943-), Brown Circle
- Eavan Boland (1944-2020), The Necessity for Irony
- Walt Whitman (1819-1892), To a Stranger
- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Wild Nights