I was first inspired to go searching for poems to share with you on Valentine’s Day 2014, and found Keats and Shakespeare’s Sonnets, as well as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet #43.
These, of course, were classically romantic, and even if few of us could have recited any of them from memory, still, they felt familiar and also, somehow personal.
This year, for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share a sensual, suggestive and evocative poem by D.H. Lawrence, titled “Moonrise”, but first, I want to present this beautiful poem by another talented poet you may not know, Amiri Baraka. I stumbled upon him in a Sunday New York Times review of a gorgeous collection of his work, titled S.O.S., Poems 1961-2013, published posthumously. The greatest part of Baraka’s poetry is politically engaged and fiercely ideological (read the NY Times review for a fuller picture of the artist and his life), but I searched out this one, based on journalist Claudia Rankine’s description alone:
““S O S” compiles the most complete representation of over a half-century of revolutionary and breathtaking work. Its final poem, “Ballad Air & Fire,” is a stunningly beautiful lyric dedicated to Baraka’s wife (now widow), Amina Baraka, nee Sylvia Robinson. The dedication “for Sylvia or Amina” suggests an inside joke, adding to the poem’s air of intimacy. But even in this final personal moment the language opens out to its community of readers.”
by Amiri Baraka
There is music
but these are left from crowds
listening and singing
All the civilizations humans have built
(speed us up we look like ants)
Our whole lives lived in an inch
or two. And those few seconds
that we breathe
in that incredible speed
blurs of sight and sound
the wind’s theories
So for us to have been together, even
for this moment
profound like a leaf
blown in the wind
to have been together
and known you, and despite our pain
to have grasped much of what joy exists
accompanied by the ring and peal of your
is what it was about, really. Life.
Loving someone, and struggling.
Next, is D.H. Lawrence’s
And who has seen the moon, who has not seen
Her rise from out the chamber of the deep,
Flushed and grand and naked, as from the chamber
Of finished bridegroom, seen her rise and throw
Confession of delight upon the wave,
Littering the waves with her own superscription
Of bliss, till all her lambent beauty shakes towards us
Spread out and known at last, and we are sure
That beauty is a thing beyond the grave,
That perfect, bright experience never falls
To nothingness, and time will dim the moon
Sooner than our full consummation here
In this odd life will tarnish or pass away.