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March 3, 2014

Poetry Bad, Love Good

I found this among my late father's papers. It's a poem he wrote to my mother while they were dating. He was a college student at the time.

When I behold the blueness of your eyes,
Or hear the melody of your sweet voice,
My life to be complete, I realize,
Depends upon me as your final choice.

For I had dreams in which you play no part,
The dark side of the moon could not compare
To the bleak desolation that my heart
Would feel on finding that you were not there.

Yet in Death's hands my life for you I'd place,
And all I own or hope to have I'd give,
Although my worldly properties are few.
But when I hold you in a close embrace
I find, dear one, that I would rather live;
My life and heart and soul to give to you.

No doubt the English teachers among my readers are reflexively reaching for their red pencils. Oh, the awkward phrases, the tortured syntax, the stumbling meter. (Fortunately, Dad kept working on his style; he eventually became a professional writer.)

On one level, it's yet another bad poem by yet another well-meaning but clueless student. But on another level, it is something else entirely.

When Mom read this, she didn't say, "This guy needs a writing tutor." She saw it for what it really was. She read, "When I hear your voice and look into your eyes, I realize that I need you to make my life complete. Without you, the world would seem empty and meaningless. I would lay down my life for you, and even though I have very little, I would give it all to you. Holding you in my arms, I know that I want to spend the rest of my life devoting myself to you."

They were married a year later.

And the lesson? Don't be afraid to express yourself to your sweetheart. A poem, a love letter, a heartfelt message written on the back of a cocktail napkin ‑‑ all will be treasured. You are writing for an audience of one, and there is no need to fear the critic's disapproval of a mixed metaphor or misplaced comma. The one who loves you will love what you have to say.

2 fabulous comments:

  1. Maybe it isn't "great" poetry, but it is so sweet and sincere, really touching.


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