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Hansen’s Team Pick:
Today, you will think about love. You may be bitter or giddy, comforted or saddened, but nevertheless, you will think about love. What better day is there than this to think about love poems?
Over on Flavorwire, 14 poets have written about their favorite love poems. Some poets name faithful favorites like Dickinson or Wordsworth. Some poets recall contemporary poems, such as Rebecca Hazelton’s pick, “Penelope’s Song” by Louise Glück. She says about the poem,
This poem, with its complicated view of love and on marriage, does all the things I want a love poem to do – when I read it, I enter the world of the lovers, see them as complex and flawed, and remember what it is to love and to be loved despite faults.
Some poets write about love poems I had never read before, such as the thirteen word poem “Seall,” by Brooklyn Copeland, a choice from Niina Pollari. It’s an interesting look into the minds of others. One poet even picks the poem of another poet on the list. No one chose completely obvious poems. Shakespeare who? Keats who? Instead, subtle references to love illuminate the way in which these poets view the incredible and overwhelming feeling of love.
Alex Dimitrov says of Plath’s “Mystic”:
Of course Plath was a romantic. Anyone faithful to something that continuously rejects and tests them is — like poetry tests the poet. And so Plath ends the poem with the line, ‘The heart has not stopped.’ And it hasn’t. We are bound to what we love. And there’s nothing romantic about it.
You can find out a lot about a person based on their favorite love poem. Mine? I’m no poet (looking back at my teen angst poetry confirms this), but I’m a sucker for classics. It’s a tough choice between Neruda, Donne, and many old, dead people, but the award has to go to “When You Are Old” by W.B. Yeats. It’s the only poem I’ve ever memorized and nothing comforts me more than repeating it in my head when I can’t write or fall asleep or I’m on a bus and feeling lonely. My heart swells at the thought of this poem. If that’s not the purpose of a love poem, I don’t know what is.
What other poems should have been on this list?