Google


Poems for St. Valentine's Day

LOVE POEMS

 

SIXTEEN SONNETS IN PRAISE OF BEAUTY

 

This is part of the web site of Shakespeare's sonnets

   

   
 

The Rokeby Venus
circa 1650
Velasquez.

 

National Gallery London.
See below for enlargement.
 

   

 

Home Sonnets 1 - 50 Sonnets 51 - 100 Sonnets 101 - 154 A Lover's Complaint. Sonnet no. 1
First line index Title page and Thorpe's Dedication Some Introductory Notes to the Sonnets Sonnets as plain text 1-154 Text facsimiles Other related texts of the period
Picture Gallery
Thomas Wyatt Poems Other Authors General notes  for background details, general policies etc. Map of the site Valentine Poems
London Bridge   as it was in Shakespeare's day, circa 1600. Views of London   as it was in 1616. Views of  Cheapside  London, from a print of 1639. The Carrier's  Cosmography.   A guide to all the Carriers in London.  As given by John Taylor in 1637. Oxquarry Books Ltd
Other Contemporary
Authors


 

 

    The poet asks himself what can be the meaning of his love? Does it add or subtract anything from creation? When he ponders his own littleness, it seems so unimportant a matter that he should engage in such fancies. Yet there is nothing else that is significant to him, only his beloved and her beauty. What then is to be done? Why write and commit his love to words and paper? Is it for fame and glory, or to show that he is better than many, or only to immortalize her wondrousness? He confesses his ignorance and that he can never answer these questions. But if for no other reason, he must write and hymn his beloved, so that in some distant day she might learn how deeply she was adored, and how she gave life and beauty to the world and to all who knew her.

 
 

     

Since nothing in the world can reach perfection, (one's love excepted), the poet offers these poems in the hope that others might enjoy or learn from them. He despairs of making improvement on them and so offers them in a raw unblemished state, fearing he might one day renounce them all. That they are in an older style he makes no apology for, since, with the passage of a few years even modernity becomes outmoded. May all lovers on this day meet with their heart's desire.

Vale.

 

 

 

                             I  

 

 

In the world's history lovers have a place
Just as Alexander has or Caesar,
Though in the place of battles they embrace,
And all their thoughts tactiticians outmanoeuvre.
But they survive and build victorious
A trophy, when conquest dwindles into dust,
And their empire is more illustrious
Than Genghis Khan's whose sword now rots in rust.
All of the libraries that are or that have been
Are filled with tomes of love's brave enterprise,
And all of the marvels that are ever seen
Are born, live, grow, and die in lovers' eyes.
    Therefore in loving you I cherish a flame
    That lives eternally and breathes your name.

 
     

 

 

                              II  

 

Because of you the summer rains smell sweeter,
The streets are brighter and the windows smile,
The elegant bird marks with his signature
The morning air, and dews the flowers beguile.
Because of you the leaves become the trees,
Each blade of grass is greener because of you,
Accustomed thoughts stretch to infinities,
And you alone can make the untrue true.
Because of you my mind has shed its winter
And taken you as the season of the heart,
Because of you no dreams can ever splinter
To fragments, you are the magic that bonds each part.
    For you are as the alchemy that is long gone,
    Gold that shines out from each and every stone.

 
 

 

 

   

 

 

 

                               III  

 

Sometimes I think that I shall never live
To see another spring, or watch these leaves
Break into consciousness again, or give
The sign of juvenescence that retrieves
All hope from death. A buoyant resurrection,
Even as irrational as it is true.
But yet it always happens, by direction,
It seems, just as the stark fact that I love you.
And I shall never cease to bend my mind
To note the moment when our eyes first met
And mingled, though we both were then as blind
As moles are, or as fish caught in a net.
    You are the laws that make my universe,
    I cannot change for better or for worse.

 
     

 

 

                                IV  

 

I cannot see my own demise, for always
The thoughts of you come flooding in my mind
Like springtime, or the daffodil that stays
Its head against the buffeting of the wind.
There is no corner of the universe
Where you do not inhabit, no strange places
Indifferent to the merits you disperse
Or woodenly unmindful of your graces.
Yet this might be illusion, I might chance
To think like this because of tyrant nature,
Which binds me to the magic of your glance,
And makes me see in everything your feature.
    You are so beautiful that in my sight
    When you are absent all the world is night.

 
     

 

                                 V  

 

Yet if I die it is of no great moment:
Stars sometimes vanish from our sight,
Exploding, lost for ever, evanescent,
Entrapped forever in the blackest night.
Yet I would wish that some more lasting record
Might live of how we loved, of how we gathered
Time's fruits, or how quite simply I adored
You and you only, and naught else ever mattered.
Somehow the mere existence of our love
Is written here where humans live and breathe,
It needs no constellations high above
To mark it, as the ancients might believe.
    For nothing, war, nor famine, nor impending
    Destruction can bring our love to any final ending.

 
     

 

                                  VI  

 

Clouds lie sleeping upon the dales and hills;
Would that my love could sleep so in my arms,
For nature in her randomness fulfils
Our wildest wishes sometimes, sometimes charms
Away all sorrows, albeit ephemerally.
And yet for nature there can be no meaning
Why this or that face incandescently
Wakens the dormant spirit from its dreaming
And makes it live. In this there is no sense.
Nature works with broad pastels when she paints.
Yet on this day I feel the recompense
Of skies and colours that flourish beyond constraints.
    For me you are the sum of all these things,
    Clouds, trees, hills, dales and flitting wings.

 
     

 

                                  VII  

 

In the world's maps love is undocumented,
Although its paths are known and often trod,
For those who could describe it are made demented,
Speaking as those whose eyes have sought out God.
And yet we seem to understand its ways
Instinctively, and have no need of teaching,
As butterflies new-winged seek the sun's rays,
As fledgling birds must for the skies be reaching.
Yet I must chart this atlas of my mind
To show to all the after generations
How mountains, valleys, deserts were of such kind
As you had made them, love's wildest aberrations.
    And though my madness far outweighs the cost,
    The recompense of loving is never lost.

 
     

 

  

 

                                  VIII  

 

Though all the world might say it could not be
That thus two souls should knit and be each one
Yet I will fight the last infinity
To prove that the impossible can be done.
There is a strangeness in this world of ours
Beyond the scope of all philosophers,
Which sidesteps all the reasoning mind devours
And dwells within the hearts of loving lovers.
That you are you is still mysterious,
Though you are but a woman and of Eve's race,
And you alone I love, and tremulous
I trace love's mystery only in your face.
    Within your veins the ichor runs, though human,
    A goddess as it seems, but still a woman.

 
     

 

                                  IX  

 

What is it to be a woman and love like this?
To feel each moment pass, its brief caress,
To live in expectation, and to kiss
Imagination's images and their swift fleetness.
To think of only him, just him, the living him,
In hope to hear his steps upon the paving,
The latch which opens, words filling to the brim
My body's emptiness and all its craving.
To know that love is love, that in this bound
The him and me that makes this universe
Are all the elements of this ample round,
This entire world, and all else that is diverse.
    Within his eyes I live, and every part
    Becomes the surrogate me that twines his heart.

 
     

                                  X  

 

It cannot be sufficient to be all eyes
In seeing you, for love's demands are greater
Than mere looking, love's scope and enterprise
Requires fulfilment sooner and not later.
Jointure of minds, a presence felt and touched,
Your breath in mine, our hands, our lips, our bodies,
Oceans of words upon the shores debouched,
Cincture of that which most precious in us lies.
Yet all is still Time's hostage, though it seems
Forever that your eyes will look in mine,
And I will quote love's Bible and its themes
Of living loving, to make us more divine.
    We are the archetypes of heaven's happiness,
    Even earthquakes could not make our Eden less.

 
     

 

                                  XI  

 

Alas I have not spoken, yet her looks
Seemed to require a token word from me,
Even a sign taken from secret books
Of lore of lovers', or necromancy.
A sign that both our fates were bound to this,
To live, to be, to be each other's other,
As four moist lips join in a single kiss,
As swans that mate will never seek another.
Now when I think of her in silent hours
The unspoken words come flooding in my mind
Like endless torrents that the mountain pours
From rocky fortresses, leaving the heights behind.
    Perhaps I never shall tell all of how I love her,
    Fearing the hidden truths that words uncover.

 
     

 

                                  XII  

 

What is the strangeness that unites two minds,
Disparate, contrapuntal, female, male,
That never thought such beings of two kinds
Could join, like ships that on the ocean sail
And meet and cross, as though predestinate,
When all the spacious oceans intervene
And yet their forms must coalesce and mate
Making a marriage where no match was seen?
For of your form there is some entity
Which draws from me that equal opposite
Which only longs to go where you might be
And cannot live unless you sanction it.
    All of the you in me is of this sort
    That where I am you are the living heart.

 
     

 

                                  XIII  

 

How might I write so that in every line
Others might see the beauty of your eyes
And know each feature by the serpentine
Wreathing of words that in the sonnet lies?
So that whoever reads it then might say
"She is the one his verses praise and hymn,
For each of the words most faithfully portray
That which we see, eyes, forehead, nose and chin."
But, love, it is a thing impossible,
For words cannot encompass all your beauty,
And should I but try, it were mere ridicule
And grossest dereliction of my duty:
    Which is to say that you outmatch description,
    And all which it attempts is folly's fiction.

 
     

 

 

                                  XIV  

 

I wandered on the hillside path where nature
Set forth the flowers and grasses we all know
In myriad colours, shapes and varied stature,
Abundance of beauties that the earth can show.
And all the flowers that were there congregated
Sought each its own, a partner of its essence,
That each might be united, wed and mated
And bring forth seed and fruitfullest florescence.
So that the world in pursuance of this beauty
Was driven, like all the waves upon the shore,
And none reneged or scorned his bounden duty
To strive to make abundance even more.
    And I in loving you must play this part
    And shrine you in the innermost of my heart.

 
     

 

 

                                  XV  

 

Of all my loves this is the first and last
That in the autumn of my years has grown,
A secret fern, a violet in the grass,
A final leaf where all the rest are gone.
Would that I could give all and more, my life,
My world, my thoughts, my arms, my breath, my future,
My love eternal, endless, infinite, yet brief,
As all loves are, and hopes, though they endure.
You are my sun and stars, my night, my day,
My seasons, summer, winter, my sweet spring,
My autumn song, the church in which I pray,
My land and ocean, all that the earth can bring
    Of glory and of sustenance, all that might be divine,
    My alpha and my omega, and all that was ever mine.

 
     

 

                                 XVI  

 

My lovely girl, who with the years has grown
More beautiful than hopes or dreams could make you,
Receive my farewell blessing, which your own
Loveliness decrees, to consecrate you.
Of all the wonders of this great creation
On you alone my heart and mind were set,
As nothing else were fit for adoration,
As nothing else could meet where eyes were met.
But think, although my love might bring you glory
And honour, as candles strive with night,
One life is but the ending of one story,
And we ourselves must bring from darkness light.
    Therefore give all to love, and loose its wings;
    The bird that has its freedom more often sings.

 
     

 

 

Return to previous page of love poems.  
   
     Other poems by the same author  

TOP  
     
     

 

   
 Other poems by the same author    
 


 

 


Home Sonnets 1 - 50 Sonnets 51 - 100 Sonnets 101 - 154 A Lover's Complaint. Sonnet no. 1
First line index Title page and Thorpe's Dedication Some Introductory Notes to the Sonnets Sonnets as plain text 1-154 Text facsimiles Other related texts of the period
Picture Gallery
Thomas Wyatt Poems Other Authors General notes  for background details, general policies etc. Map of the site Valentine Poems
London Bridge   as it was in Shakespeare's day, circa 1600. Views of London   as it was in 1616. Views of  Cheapside  London, from a print of 1639. The Carrier's  Cosmography.   A guide to all the Carriers in London.  As given by John Taylor in 1637. Oxquarry Books Ltd
If you wish to comment on this site: please refer to details on the home page.  If you have enjoyed this web site, please visit its companion -
Pushkin's Poems
Other Contemporary
Authors

 

TOP


     

     

Copyright 2001-2009 of this site belongs to Oxquarry Books Ltd