February romance

President’s note: This month’s blog comes to us courtesy of new member, Gail M. Murray, an accomplished writer, and all around romantic.


Romantic Love in Poetry

Love – whether first blush, ardent passion or lost love – is a universal theme in literature. In the 13th century, Persian poet and mystic Rumi wrote “I open and fill with love, what is not love, evaporates/All the learning in books stays put on the shelf/Poetry the dear words and images of song, comes down over me like mountain water.” Portrayed here, love is all encompassing, overpowering. Love inspires him to write. Words flow naturally like a cool stream of water.

In the 16th century, with star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare immortalizes romantic love in iambic pentameter. His simple, memorable oxymoron, “parting is such sweet sorrow”, so often quoted it seems cliché, conveys the longing lovers experience when they say goodbye. The lovers’ intense emotions culminate in tragedy.

In the 19th century, poets reacting to cities and industrialization looked to love and nature for inspiration. Today with technology infiltrating our lives, is not the need for respite even greater?

When someone mentions romance to me, I think of The Romantics – Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Wordsworth. What woman would not be wooed by Byron’s “she walks in beauty like the night”? Not a brief text but something requiring thought, time, and preferably hand written is most likely to elicit the desired response. Who would not be touched by a love letter or poem, created just for them?

Since I first studied John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn“, he has been one of my heroes. His lovers are frozen forever in time. In my own writing, I endeavor to capture the moment.

From the 20th century comes e. e. cummings’ ethereal line “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)”, depicting how the lover’s world revolves around the loved one.

Pablo Neruda, known for his earthy and erotic writing, has my sympathy when he writes of love as a double edged sword. It can bring great joy and great pain as echoed in his “night is shattered and blue stars shiver in the distance…..my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.” This is taken from his poignant “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines”.

In writing about love, poets pour out feelings in precise language with haunting images that tear at the reader’s heart. Wordsworth has the best definition of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling …..recollected in tranquility.”  Is this perhaps what we aspire to achieve? My best writing comes from the affective domain. It is not forced. After leaving it a while I must change hats, become the objective editor, and finally ask for my fellow writers’ assistance to critique.

So as florists stock up on roses, let us give a nod to our forebears and a vote of gratitude to our fellow writers.


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