Today, on the Eve of St. Valentine’s Day, I want to share a new love poem of mine with you. But first, bear with me while I tell you about a poet and a poem that played a part in shaping it.
One of my favorite love poems of all time is John Donne’s “To His Mistress Going to Bed.”
It manages to be both funny and sexy at the same time.
Donne was a complex guy. He was both a poet and a priest. His verse could be mischievous and amorous, but more often was spiritual and somber.
Even if you haven’t read his poetry, you’ve surely heard some of his lines, among the most famous in English literature: “No man is an island,” and “never send for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
Born into a Roman Catholic family in England when that status alone could get you killed, he stubbornly clung to the faith of his youth … until he didn’t. Then he converted and became an Anglican cleric.
It was said that when he was a young man, “he spent much of his considerable inheritance on women, literature, pastimes, and travel.” The rest, I suppose, he spent foolishly.
Today, when hardly anything is forbidden, I find Donne’s 400-year-old love poem quaintly racy–in a wholesome sort of way. I’m not a prude, but I have no patience for literature meant only to shock. When I open a book of verse and see the writer spewing obscenities and graphic descriptions just to show he—or she–can, my immediate reaction is: “Why don’t you try being interesting? Amuse me!”
I enjoy love poems for grown ups. Especially now, having cultivated a marriage through many seasons, I am keenly aware of just how precious love can be. And, having reached a certain age and having witnessed the deaths of parents, brothers, and classmates, I’m not taking anything for granted.
So today, I submit this grown-up love poem for your consideration.
I must give credit where credit is due. I most certainly stole an idea from Donne, when he strung together his series of prepositions in his “Mistress” poem. When I got to certain spot in my own poem, there was really no better way to finish it than to string together a few of Donne’s prepositions.
Late Summer’s Sun
Late summer’s sun has baked the grass to brown.
The days grow shorter with each passing day,
Soon, autumn’s chill will make the leaves fall down.
All of this aching beauty will decay.
And yet I love the shadows’ slanting trace,
The once green grain gone golden in its rows,
And how I love the lines etched in your face.
It’s funny, as love ripens how it grows.
The number of our days we do not know.
No sleeper knows if he will ever wake.
So come, let’s join above, between, below.
My dear, let’s cause our fragile clay to quake.
Let us make love as if it’s our last go.
Let us embrace like dawn will never break.