poem index

Eros and the Lyric Imagination: Poems of Love

Written by

Marilyn Hacker
Contributor Page

Year

2005

Eros is often the fuel of the lyric imagination, which chooses to use words, sentences, musical structures of language to re/member the beloved, to enter that inexhaustible source of--not uniquely "carnal"--knowledge which is another person's body and mind.

Blue
by May Swenson
Blue, but you are Rose, too...

Long Distance II
by Tony Harrison
Though my mother was already two years dead...

Lullaby
by W. H. Auden
Lay your sleeping head, my love...

Rent
by Jane Cooper
If you want my apartment, sleep in it...

The Conjugation of the Paramecium
by Muriel Rukeyser
This has nothing / to do with / propagating...

The Distant Moon
by Rafael Campo
Admitted to the hospital again...

The Talking Back of Miss Valentine Jones: Poem # one
by June Jordan
well I wanted to braid my hair ...

Many love poems are actually poems of seduction. I've preferred to choose poems in which love is a presence, not a pursuit: W. H. Auden's meditation on the timelessness attendant on the erotic moment; May Swenson's delicious limning of gratified desire. Muriel Rukeyser's poem is a deft parable on the necessary gratuitousness of full erotic exchange. Jane Cooper's lyric and June Jordan's dramatic monologue both exemplify that, perhaps especially in love, "the personal is political": we love and are loved in our quotidian complexities, or not at all. Tony Harrison's (Meredithian) sonnet views married love and its attendant mourning with the perspective of the filial love it engendered. And Rafael Campo's sequence shows us anarchic Eros enriching the healer's compassion.