Pinsky sings songs of love
February 14, 2007 10:04 AM   Subscribe

For each of the last three years, Robert Pinsky has collected a small set of Valentine's Day poems (and insightful analysis) around a particular theme - poems about love, poems against love, and poems about lust.
posted by blahblahblah (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
See also the following poems from the Poet and Writers list of the top 25 love poems:

No Second Troy by Yeats
What Any Lover Learns by MacLeish
I Know a Woman by Roethke
Lines on a Young Ladies Photograph Album by Larkin
posted by blahblahblah at 10:08 AM on February 14, 2007

Others from the Poet and Writer's list:

Queen Anne's Lace by William Carlos Williams
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by Eliot
Passer Mortuus Est by Edna St. Vincent Millay (I guess they like darker poems)
somewhere I have never travelled by cummings
And basically anything by Walter Benton.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:17 AM on February 14, 2007

Pinsky was one of my thesis advisors at Berkeley -- he's a wonderful, brilliant guy.

This is one of my favorite poems about love, by the late Stanley Kunitz. He wrote it when he was 90 years old, god bless him.

Touch Me

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.
posted by digaman at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had never read that Larkin poem before, but my god, I love it.
posted by mckenney at 10:32 AM on February 14, 2007

Thanks - I particularly like the John Keats poem at the end of the poems against love link. I haven't seen it before.
posted by taliaferro at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2007

blahblahblah, your post just inspired me to post this interview with Robert Pinsky that I did in 1991, when I was in high school.
posted by staggernation at 11:52 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

My two favorite love poems (hopefully not a serious derail)

To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

and Eurydice Reveals Her Strength by A.E Stallings

Dying is the easy part.
As you live, my dear, why did you come?
You should learn an easing of the heart
As I have, now, for truly some

Prefer this clarity of mind, this death
Of all the body's imperious demands:
That constant interruption of the breath,
That fever-greed of eyes and hands

To digest your beauty whole.
You strike a tune upon a string:
They say that it is beautiful.
You sing to me, you sing, you sing.

I think, how do the living hear?
But I remember now, that it was just
A quiver in the membrane of the ear,
And love, a complicated lust.

And I remember now, as in a book,
How you pushed me down upon the grass and stones,
Crushed me with your kisses and your hands and took
What there is to give of emptiness, and moans.

We strained to be one strange new beast enmeshed,
And this is what we strained against, this death,
And clawed as if to peel away the flesh,
Crawled safe inside another's hollowness,

Because we feared this calm of being dead.
I say this. You abhor my logic, and you shiver,
Thinking I may as well be just some severed head
Floating down a cool, forgetful river,

Slipping down the shadows, green and black,
Singing to myself, not looking back.

Sorry for the length.
posted by elendil71 at 2:53 PM on February 14, 2007

Coupling, rhymed, or not, in couplets or not — that's just dandy.
Poetry is itself the language in love with itself — or sometimes just randy.
posted by Haruspex at 3:20 PM on February 14, 2007

Seconded, digaman. He came to my school and taught my poetry class for a day. He doesn't fuck around -- he patently avoided some of the more navel-gazing crap some students came up with -- like, totally ignored it. Then, later that night, he did a reading for the whole school and singled out two people who were chatting while he was delivering.

"It's not like TV," he said. "I can actually hear you."
posted by hifiparasol at 3:46 PM on February 14, 2007

"Love comes in spurts"

--Richard Hell
posted by bardic at 4:36 PM on February 14, 2007

Kevin, my God, what an intelligent interview for you to have given at 18. Really well done. And knowing that I knew Pinsky not long before that, I hear echoes of my own memories in how he talked at that time. That's wonderful -- that you for resurrecting it.
posted by digaman at 10:13 PM on February 14, 2007

*thank you
posted by digaman at 10:17 PM on February 14, 2007

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