18 February 2008

The Love Cycle: Love Poems

By Anne Whitfield

Throughout the centuries, people have written love poems to express desires, longing, hope, heartache and the sheer wonder of love.

I came across a book titled One Hundred And Twenty Asiatic Love Poems, translated by E. Powys Mathers. The book features love poems from around the world.

Here are a few examples.

We were two green rushes by opposing banks,
And the small stream ran between.
Not till the water beat us down
Could we be brought together,
Not till the winter came
Could we be mingled in a frosty sleep,
Locked down and close.
--From the Chinese of J. Wing (nineteenth century).

Lonely rose out-splendouring legions of roses,
How could the nightingales behold you and not sing?
--By Rustwell of Georgia (from the Tariel, twelfth century).

Love brings the tiny sweat into your hair
Like stars marching in the dead of night.
--From the Hindustani of Mir Taqui (eighteenth century).

I desire the door-sill of my beloved
More than a king's house;
I desire the shadow of the wall where her beauty hides
More than the Delhi palaces.
Why did you wait till spring;
Were not my hands already full of red-thorned roses?
My heart is yours,
So that I know not which heart I hear sighing:
Yaquin, Yaquin, Yaquin, foolish Yaquin.
--From the Hindustani of Yaquin (eighteenth century).

Joy fills my eyes, remembering your hair, with tears,
And these tears roll and shine;
Into my thoughts are woven a dark night with raindrops
And the rolling and shining of love songs.
--From the Hindustani of Mir Taqui (eighteenth century).

Ever your rose face or black curls are with Shaguil;
Because your curls are night and your face is day.
--From the Hindustani of Shaguil (eighteenth century).

A love-sick heart dies when the heart is whole,
For all the heart's health is to be sick with love.
--From the Hindustani of Miyan Jagnu (eighteenth century).

Your eyes are black like water-melon pips,
Your lips are red like the red flesh of water-melons,
Your loins are smooth like smooth-rind water-melons.
You are more beautiful than my favourite among mares,
Your buttocks are sleeker and firmer,
Like her your movements are on legs of light steel.
Come and sit at my hearth, and I will celebrate your coming;
I will choose from the hundred flocks of each a hundred,
Passing at the foot of the Himalaya,
The two most silky and most beautiful great sheep.
We will go to the temple and sacrifice one of the two
To the god Pandu, that you may have many children;
And I will kill the other and roast it whole,
My most fair rose-tree serving as a spit.
I will ask the prettiest eaters and the prettiest drinkers;
And while they eat and drink greatly for three days,
I will wind silver rings upon your arms and feet
And hang a chain of river gold about your neck.
--Popular Song of Kafiristan.

I dreamed that I was touching her eyelids, and I awoke
To find her sleepy temples of rose jade
For one heart-beat....
Though the moonlight beats upon the sea,
There is no boat.
--Lyric of Korea.

As water runs in the river, so runs time;
And ever my eyes are wasted of her presence.
The red flowers of the second moon were yesterday;
To-day the earth has spots of blood, and there are no flowers.
The wild geese were harnessed to the autumn moon;
They have come, I heard their crying, and they are gone.
They have passed and given me no message;
I only hear the falling, falling noise of white rain.
--Song of Korea