LIFE: LOVING SOMEONE, AND STRUGGLING (poems for Valentine’s Day)


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.

9780802123350.01This 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.”

BALLAD AIR & FIRE, for Sylvia or Amina

by Amiri Baraka

There is music


in lonely


blue music 


purple music

black music

red music

but these are left from crowds

of people

listening and singing

from generation

to generation


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

romantic laughter


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.

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