This poem was originally posted on Facebook on St. Valentine’s Day, 2007. Valentine’s Day is “the day” in question.
“My love’s like a red rose”—as fair perhaps,
Fairer still in this February, but
Dressing as she does to avoid the eye,
It was her mind that first revealed to me
The Lord in glory imaged there by her,
Sparking—planting—somehow this love in me,
Where it grew for months with me unknowing.
When it in me, and I to it, awoke,
The pangs of separation made me grieve
Until at last I saw her face again,
Which is more dear to me at times than sun
(Which still I treasure, for without it she
Comes quick to danger dread from ice and cold).
Even thereafter still I grieve in woe,
For long the hours are I see her not,
And, by appearances, she loves me not—
Which of these two is more important there
I know not; both leave me semper dolens,
Interrupted only for a moment
By a dear friend or flash of grace, which once
Had left me smiling joyfully for days.
O, that she loved me! But I will not pray
To gain that end, for I would rather have
Her happy, joyful, glad, with none for me
Than any harm should come to her. I put
Her interests o’er mine own within my prayers.
Certainly “my love’s like a melody”
More fair than any I could ever sing,
And also more perfectly proportioned
Than any tune that e’er I’ve tried to write,
But it was not the joy I had with her
That first brought my mind to think upon her;
Indeed, for all those months that I was there,
Almost daily by her side, I knew not
What dear affection from my heart I had
For her who labored by me; friend alone
I thought her. “Absence makes the heart grow fond,”
It’s said, and it was true in this my case—
Scarcely five weeks, it seems (though may be more)
Since we’d parted—then sorely ached my heart.
Oh, wherefore bursts the beating heart of man?
Ah, why start tears within his azure eye?
A love I knew not, and who knew not me—
Though, after months at grindstone side by side
Her friendship valued, treasured, cherished I—
Made my heart quicken when I thought of her,
And heavy sighs, like a furnace bellow,
Rolled heavy off my chest in every hint
To my despairing brain of her fair voice.
(In those preceding sentences I find
Some elements exaggerated slight.
Ignore them, Gentle Reader, if you please,
For in despair the meter’s hard to fit.
It was not every thought, nor every hint,
But close enough t’excuse hyperbole.)
When she returned, I wrote in faltering feet
Of pentametric and iambic verse,
As well as free (though chaine’d sorts),
In some small (thus far in vain) endeavor
To cause there my loved one to discover
The substance and the feeling of my love
And, if possible, to incite in her
Some measure of requiting affection.
But she continued, then, apparently
Oblivious to all I showed to her,
To every unwise blank-feet line of verse
And to every injudicious sonnet
Wherein I cloaked my feelings not enough.
I dare not make her my petition straight,
For I her friendship cherish more than light,
But this unseeing quality is odd,
For in all else her wisdom shines like stars.
Alas! I feel I can’t continue thus,
For weariness o’ertakes my feeble bones,
But lacking any antiphon to me,
Whether for yea or nay, I must go on
Much as I’ve been, despite my weariness.
You can read more of my poetry on my blog.