National Poetry Month, day twenty-two

Wow, we’re coming into the home stretch.

I wonder just what percentage of poetry can be accurately classified as “love poetry”. I assume it’s a pretty large percent, but who knows. It would be an impossible task to identify every love poem in the world, obviously, and there would be many that some would consider love poems and that some would not. But love is one of the great human themes, and it stands to reason that it would be also one of the great themes found in poetry. Just look at your local bookstore’s poetry section, and depending on the size of the store, you will almost certainly see a good portion of the selection devoted to collections of love poems. (And yes, I own several myself.)

Here is one of my favorite love poems, written by the great National Poet of Scotland, Robert Burns. Burns is always a delight to read, with his use of Scottish dialect and his unerring sense of poetic rhythm. The third stanza here amazes me each time I read this poem, because it suddenly elevates what seems, at first, like a fairly simple little rhyming love poem. “While the sands o’ life shall run” is a gorgeous, gorgeous line, ripe with wonderful metaphor.

A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.

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