Thursday, February 26, 2009

Perpetual

My two favorite love poems.

WHEN YOU ARE OLD

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

--W.B. Yeats (1893)

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CHAUCER

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote . . .”
At the top of your voice, where you swayed on the top of a stile,
Your arms raised—somewhat for balance, somewhat
To hold the reins of the straining attention
Of your imagined audience—you declaimed Chaucer
To a field of cows. And the Spring sky had done it
With its flying laundry, and the new emerald
Of the thorns, the hawthorn, the blackthorn,
And one of those bumpers of champagne
You snatched unpredictably from pure spirit.
Your voice went over the fields towards Grantchester.
It must have sounded lost. But the cows
Watched, then approached: they appreciated Chaucer.
You went on and on. Here were reasons
To recite Chaucer. Then came the Wyf of Bath,
Your favorite character in all literature.
You were rapt. And the cows were enthralled.
They shoved and jostled shoulders, making a ring,
To gaze into your face, with occasional snorts
Of exclamation, renewed their astounded attention,
Ears angling to catch every inflection,
Keeping their awed six feet of reverence
Away from you. You just could not believe it.
And you could not stop. What would happen
If you were to stop? Would they attack you,
Scared by the shock of silence, or wanting more—?
So you had to go on. You went on—
And twenty cows stayed with you hypnotized.
How did you stop? I can’t remember
You stopping. I imagine they reeled away—
Rolling eyes, as if driven from their fodder.
I imagine I shooed them away. But
Your sostenuto rendering of Chaucer
Was already perpetual. What followed
Found my attention too full
And had to go back into oblivion.

--Ted Hughes (1998)

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and here's one extra:

BEAUTY MOVES

...the trance of
your dark eyes, now closed
as dance takes hold,
head back to grin in
gold regress.

I love you like this, warm bliss
replacing once and future cold;
for now the mist of your happiness
settles on your skin -- not for
my own dumb tongue to bless --
but for lights
and all eyes to caress
and kiss.

-- Me (circa 1991)



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