Tag Archives: love

June Love, Simple and Entire

For a June poem, here’s Richard Wilbur reminiscing about young love.

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Love, the Lesson which the Lord Us Taught

Edmund Spenser joyfully welcomes in Easter, proclaiming “Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.”

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Chaucer Invented St. Valentine’s Day

Chaucer may have invented St. Valentine’s Day as we have come to know it. “Parliament of Fowls” was written to celebrate the occasion, along with a royal wedding.

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Love Came Down at Christmas

People ask for physical miracles so that they may believe. Christina Rossetti points out that Jesus gave us something far more miraculous: divine love.

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For the Final, We Shall Be Tested on Love

Thomas Centolella applies the language of testing to love in this witty and moving poem.

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Lear: Finding Love in Adversity

Both “Doctor Faustus” and “King Lear” teach us the silver lining in adversity, “Faustus” in a negative way, “Lear” in a positive.

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A Song of Love for Julia

My wife’s beautiful name becomes synonymous with longing in both a Robert Herrick and a John Lennon lyric.

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Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18–Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day–can be read as a power move.

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Remembering a Father’s Tenderness

In this poem about his father, Li-Young Lee remembers a tender moment that has led to his own tenderness as an adult.

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I Carry Your Heart with Me

On this, the day of my wedding anniversary, I send to my wife an e. e. cummings poem.

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My Father’s Love Song to Phoebe

For my mother’s birthday, I post a love poem written to her by my late father 67 years ago.

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Love, a Bulwark against Desolation

Toni Morrison expands St. Paul’s vision of love to include erotic love.

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How Do You Like Love? All Ways

Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” is the perfect play for Valentine’s Day.

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But the Greatest of These Is Love

First Corinthians 13 may be St. Paul’s greatest poem.

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Dear Frustrated in Love: Read a Classic

Literature is better than any self help book for relationship guidance.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Garcia Marquez (Gabriel), Virgil | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Come, My Light, My Feast, My Strength

In “The Call,” George Herbert opens himself to God’s love with a confidence not found in many of his poems.

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Summer in the Glen

Scott Bates tells us that when we give ourselves over to the universe of which we are a part, then we escape the entrapment of self.

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This Is the Golden Morning of Love

A wedding poem seems appropriate for June. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s lovely “Marriage Morning” draws me, maybe because it captures some of the anxieties of the wedding day and not just the joys.

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Finding Love while Dying

From time to time I bring you updates about my friend Alan Paskow, currently failing because of cancer. Julia and I visit the Paskows every Sunday night. Julia administers a Reiki massage to Jackie while Alan and I converse. In our recent visits, Alan is always in bed when I talk to him. Our conversation […]

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A Message of Love for Fractious Times

Spiritual Sunday In last Monday’s post a fascinating discussion was started when I applied a passage from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov to the debate over whether society should step in and help out homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. Zosima, a very spiritual character and an elder in the Russian Orthodox Church, warns his listeners that […]

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Dostoevsky’s Support for Troubled Homes

In debates about whether or not to help out troubled homeowners, Fyodor Dostoevsky would probably be in favor.  I am currently reading The Brothers Karamazov and am struck by how applicable it seems to the debate over foreclosures. The mortgage crisis, of course, pushed the world economy into recession, and foreclosures on homes are still […]

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War or Lucasta: Which Is Worthier?

“You are off to blog rather than snuggle with your wife?” asked my wife incredulously as I slipped out of bed trying not to wake her. Which of course brought to mind a poem that I could blog about: To Lucasta, Going to the War By Richard Lovelace Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind, […]

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Out of Near Death, a Vision of Love

Spiritual Sunday Thanks to all of you who wrote this past week following the twin blows of my uncle’s death and news of the severity of Alan’s latest cancer diagnosis. The discussion in response to Thursday’s post about which goes deeper, self or love, brought to the periphery of my mind a catechism in which […]

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How to Film Austen Heroines Saying Yes

Amanda Root as Anne Elliott  Film Friday One must show a great deal of sensitivity in how one films a Jane Austen heroine accepting a marriage proposal. That’s because the author never shows us the acceptances directly. Although I am generally not a great fan of filmed versions of Jane Austen novels, I have to […]

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Gripped by a Tyrannical Love

Since I am vacationing in Maine and spent time yesterday with my favorite cousin, who is a huge Edward Arlington Robinson fan, I devote a post to the state’s greatest poet.  Whenever I visit Dan Bates in Gardiner, we have to visit Robinson’s grave and look at his house. My favorite Robinson poem is “Eros […]

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June Weddings, Elizabethan Style

Francois Boucher, mid 18th-century  As June is the month for weddings (Julia and I were married June 8), I will be looking at a wedding poem and a wedding play this week: Edmund Spenser’s gorgeous Epithalamion and Shakespeare’s magical Midsummer Night’s Dream. Writing about his own upcoming wedding, Spenser is so exuberant that he could […]

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Freeing Oneself from Past Trauma

Soledad Villamil (Irene), Ricardo Darin (Esposito)          Film Friday Warning: The following essay contains spoilers. Today I sing the praises of The Secret in Their Eyes, the Juan Jose Campanella film from Argentina that won the 2009 Foreign Film Oscar.  It is more than a gripping film about investigating a murder, although it is also that.  […]

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After 37 Years, Still 2 Lights above the Sea

You will not be surprised to hear that poetry played a big role in my wedding 37 years ago, on June 8, 1973. The outdoor wedding occurred shortly after Carleton’s Commencement ceremony (our good friends John Colman and Anne Smith got married shortly before).  Three days earlier, after an intense week finishing up my final essays, […]

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A Poem for Those that Feel Unloveable

I can think of no better poet to move us into Holy Week than George Herbert, a 17th century Anglican rector who wrestled mightily with a sense of his unworthiness. In his poetry, Herbert is determined to be as honest about his doubts as possible.  He is not a facile Christian.  When he believes that […]

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Earth, Love, Birches, and Ice Storms

I promised this post on Robert Frost’s “Birches” in the event that we have an ice storm.  I don’t know yet whether we will have one, but we had frozen rain for much of the night, and as I write this (Wednesday morning) we are being attacked by a blizzard.  So if I don’t arrange […]

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Austen’s Good Enough Match

First of all, a happy birthday to Jane Austen (thanks to my mother for pointing this out).  Jane would have been 234 today. My students have been bothered by the Marianne-Brandon marriage that concludes Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and I’m inclined to agree with them.  Kat Vander Wende reasonably pointed out that the sought-after […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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