“I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”
“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love.”
— Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 9
Actually, Mr. Darcy, music is the food of love according to the Bard, but let’s not pick at nits.
Saturday is when I would usually post a poem for all of you, and seeing as today is Valentine’s Day, I knew it had to be a love poem. So, while looking for some suitable material, I came across a poem by one of my favorite poets, Anne Bradstreet. Hopefully, this choice is a little less obvious than Shakespeare’s 116th sonnet or Elizabeth Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?”
A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment
by Anne Bradstreet
My head, my heart, mine Eyes, my life, nay more,
My joy, my Magazine of earthly store,
If two be one, as surely thou and I,
How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lye?
So many steps, head from the heart to sever
If but a neck, soon should we be together:
I like the earth this season, mourn in black,
My Sun is gone so far in’s Zodiack,
Whom whilst I ’joy’d, nor storms, nor frosts I felt,
His warmth such frigid colds did cause to melt.
My chilled limbs now nummed lye forlorn;
Return, return sweet Sol from Capricorn;
In this dead time, alas, what can I more
Then view those fruits which through thy heat I bore?
Which sweet contentment yield me for a space,
True living Pictures of their Fathers face.
O strange effect! now thou art Southward gone,
I weary grow, the tedious day so long;
But when thou Northward to me shalt return,
I wish my Sun may never set, but burn
Within the Cancer of my glowing breast,
The welcome house of him my dearest guest.
Where ever, ever stay, and go not thence,
Till natures sad decree shall call thee hence;
Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone,
I here, thou there, yet both but one.