Four Love Poems

I’ve just started Love’s Labour’s Lost (imagine! A Shakespeare comedy with no weddings in it!) and it has put me on a love poetry reading jag. Emily Dickinson got me going with this one (c. 1880), so apropos of LLL:

We shall find the Cube of the Rainbow.
Of that, there is no doubt.
But the Arc of a Lover’s conjecture
Eludes the finding out.

I also love one I refer to as Louie, Louie (I’ve been warped by John “Bluto” Belushi and National Lampoon’s Animal House) but it might be more accurately called “Luely, Luely,” which was Scottish for softly, softly. Actually, that’s not the name of the poem at all. (Don’t you love when people are giving you directions, and they say “You know where the auto parts place is, the one by the old gas station that burned a few years back, right across from the water plant by the elementary school? Well, don’t turn there.”)

The name of the poem is The Trysting Place, and it’s by Scottish poet William Soutar, who lived in the early 1900’s. I put the words that need translating below the poem.

O luely, luely, cam she in
And luely she lay doun:
I kent her be her caller lips
And her breists sae sma’ and roun’.

A’ thru the night we spak nae word
Nor sinder’d bane frae bane:
A’ thru the nicht I heard her hert
Gang soundin’ wi’ my ain.

It was about the waukrife hour
When cocks begin to craw
That she smool’d saftly thru the mirk
Afore the day weud daw.

Sae luely, luely, cam she in
Saie luely was she gaen;
And wi’ her a’ my simmer days
Like they had never been.

luely = softly, caller = fresh / cool, sinder’d = parted, bane = bone, waukrife = waking

I also love Robert Browning’s Meeting at Night, which puts me in mind of all the nights in high school when the Husband and I were dating, when he would drive way out to where I worked as a waitress in order to spend an hour or so sitting with me on the curb — me stinking of fried fish — before driving me home at 3 or 4 am, knowing we would both be exhausted in the morning but believing it was worth it.

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

Once I get started it’s hard to quit. I have dozens of love poems which remind me of those teenage years in which the Husband and I dated and fell in love. So, one more marvelous piece, because I can’t let it go. This is W. B. Yeats, a poem called Brown Penny:

I whispered, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
‘Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.’
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

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