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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernadette Mayer
Bernadette Mayer
Bernadette Mayer was born in 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. She received...
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FURTHER READING
Poems About Love
Paradise Lost, Book IV, Lines 639–652
by John Milton
A Ditty
by Sir Philip Sidney
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Parisian Roof Garden in 1918
by Natalie Clifford Barney
Action Poem
by Helen Hoyt
Amour Honestus
by Edward Hirsch
an endnote and love song:
by Erín Moure
Answer to a Child's Question
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
As I Walked Out One Evening
by W. H. Auden
Credo
by Matthew Rohrer
Dear Tiara
by Sean Thomas Dougherty
Dependants
by Paul Farley
El Beso
by Angelina Weld Grimké
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
Epithalamium
by Matthew Rohrer
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I Built a Fire
by Natalie Clifford Barney
I Love You
by Sara Teasdale
I think I should have loved you presently (Sonnet IX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
In Passing
by Stanley Plumly
Invitation to Love
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
It Was Raining In Delft
by Peter Gizzi
June Light
by Richard Wilbur
Losing It
by Margaret Gibson
Love
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lullaby
by W. H. Auden
Miss Sally on Love
by Shara McCallum
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
by William Shakespeare
Ode, Aubade
by Greg Wrenn
poem I wrote sitting across the table from you
by Kevin Varrone
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings
Sonnets on Love XIII
by Jean de Sponde
syntax
by Maureen N. McLane
The Love Unfeigned
by Geoffrey Chaucer
To Dorothy
by Marvin Bell
True Love
by Barry Gifford
True Love
by Robert Penn Warren
Two Loves
by Lord Alfred Douglas
Undressing You
by Witter Bynner
What Is True
by Ben Kopel
What Was Told, That
by Jalalu'l-din Rumi
When You are Old
by W. B. Yeats
Who Shall Doubt
by George Oppen
Whom You Love
by Joseph O. Legaspi
Wild Nights – Wild Nights! (249)
by Emily Dickinson
Yours
by Daniel Hoffman
Related Prose
An Anatomy of the Long Poem
by Rachel Zucker
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Midwinter Day [Excerpt]

 
by Bernadette Mayer

I write this love as all transition
As if I'm in instinctual flight,
                                    a small lady bug
With only two black dots on its back
Climbs like a blind turtle on my pen
And begins to drink ink in the light
                                             of tradition
We're allowed to crowd love in
Like a significant myth
                              resting still on paper
I remember being bitten by a spider
It was like feeling what they call
                                          the life of the mind
Stinging my thigh like Dante
                                     this guilty beetle
Is a frightening thing
When it shows its wings
And leaps like the story of a woman who
                                                     once in this house
Said the world was like a madhouse
                                              cold winds blowing
And life looks like some malignant disease,
Viewed from the heights of reason
Which I don't believe in
                              I know the place
Taken by tradition is like superstition
And even what they call the
Literary leaves less for love
                                    I know
The world is straight ice
I know backwards the grief of life like chance
                                                          if I can say that
I can say easily I know you
                                    like the progression
From memory to what they call freedom
Or reason
             though it's not reason at all
It's an ideal like anarchism though it's not an ideal
It's a kind of time that has flown away from causes
Or gotten loose from them, pried loose
Or used them up, gotten away
                                       no one knows why
Nothing happens
There is no reason, there's no dream
                                               it's not inherited
Like peace but it's not peace
                                     there's no beginning
Like religion but it is not God
It's more like middle age or humor
Without elucidation
                         like greeting-card verse
This love is a recognized occasion
I know you like I know my times
As if I were God and gave you birth
                                               if I can say that
I can say I am Ra who drew from himself
To give birth to Geb and Nut, Isis and Osiris
Though it isn't decorous today to say this
                                                     instead I say
You are the resource for my sense of decorum
Knowing you as Ra knew the great of magic, 
His imaginary wife, 
                         and without recourse to love
Men and women are like tears
                                       I would lose my memory, 
I would sleep twelve hours, I would wake up
And get into my boat with my scribe,
I would study the twelve hours of the day
Spending an hour in each
                                 I would have a secret name
I would rush upon the guilty without pity
Till the goddess of my eye in her vengeance
Overwhelmed my own rage
                                    as you and I take turns 
In love's anger like the royal children
Born every morning to die that night
                                                I know you speak
And are as suddenly forgiven, 
It's the consequence of love' having no cause
Then we wonder what we can say
                                            I can say
I turn formally to love to spend the day,
To you to form the night as what I know, 
An image of love allows what I can't say,
Sun's lost in the window and love is below
Love is the same and does not keep that name
I keep that name and I am not the same
A shadow of ice exchanges the color of light,
Love's figure to begin the absent night.






From Midwinter Day. Copyright © 1982 by Bernadette Mayer. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
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