In a Boat

See the stars, love,
In the water much clearer and brighter
Than those above us, and whiter,
Like nenuphars.

Star-shadows shine, love,
How many stars in your bowl?
How many shadows in your soul,
Only mine, love, mine?

When I move the oars, love,
See how the stars are tossed,
Distorted, the brightest lost.
So that bright one of yours, love.

The poor waters spill
The stars, waters broken, forsaken.
The heavens are not shaken, you say, love,
Its stars stand still.

There, did you see
That spark fly up at us; even
Stars are not safe in heaven.
What of yours, then, love, yours?

What then, love, if soon
Your light be tossed over a wave?
Will you count the darkness a grave,
And swoon, love, swoon?

—D. H.  Lawrence

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neruda river quote

photo by L. L.  Barkat

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Sometimes with One I Love

Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse unreturn’d love,
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love, the pay is certain one way or another
(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return’d,
Yet out of that I have written these songs).

 

—Walt Whitman

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photo by L.L. Barkat

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(“My soul is alight…”)

 III
         My soul is alight with your infinitude of stars. Your world has broken upon me like a flood. The flowers of your garden blossom in my body. The joy of life that is everywhere burns like an incense in my heart. And the breath of all things plays on my life as on a pipe of reeds.

—Rabindranath Tagore

l.l. barkat water poem

photo by L.L. Barkat

I Am Not Yours

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

—Sara Teasdale

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rumi poem

photo by Claire Burge

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I loved you…

I loved you, and I probably still do,
And for a while the feeling may remain…
But let my love no longer trouble you,
I do not wish to cause you any pain.
I loved you; and the hopelessness I knew,
The jealousy, the shyness – though in vain -
Made up a love so tender and so true
As may God grant you to be loved again.

—Alexander Pushkin

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neruda poem

photo by Sandra Heska King

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A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

—John Donne (1633)

Want to discuss this poem? Stop by our Poetry Classroom at Tweetspeak Poetry, and talk with Classics professor Karen Swallow Prior

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photo by Claire Burge

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The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring but sorrow’s fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten, -
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

—Sir Walter Raleigh (1600)

For a discussion of this poetry-wars style reply to Christopher Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, check out Tweetspeak Poetry’s Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, with Classics professor Karen Swallow Prior

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photo by Claire Burge

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The Reading

Run your hand over the poem,
and you already know it.

Feel the round of the R to begin;
curl under the opening line and cup
the first y so you can feel its tail
tickling. Run your hand across
its side and gather up the poem,
the cup, the tail and begin down.

You will do this again, but for now
you already know what’s coming
before you know it—
the way I knew I would find you.

I knew the way a hand knows,
before a syllable is spoken.

—L.L. Barkat, author of the fiction-poetry title The Novelist

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photo by Willingham Lindquist

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The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

—Christopher Marlowe

For more Christopher Marlowe love poems, see Complete Poems

Check out this discussion of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, with author and Classics professor Karen Swallow Prior, at Tweetspeak Poetry.

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blossoms love poem card

photo by Sarah Elwell

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