When we think of love poetry, we think of beginnings. They capture that swollen moment when you realize that you want to be with someone, that second where your heart beats faster, where hands touch in an orangish gloaming, and you know that your life is forever different. They are also really good at capturing ends: sad and tragic love songs about the one that got away, or a love that for whatever reason wasn’t meant to be. They are both about fire- either that sudden spark that causes an inferno or the fire that burnt twice as bright, but half as long.
What they generally fail to capture is the fire that doesn’t extinguish, but smolders, that lasts, maybe not with the same raging intensity, but with something more meaningful: that warming light which lasts comfortable until a new dawn. There are some poems and songs that capture what it means to be in a long-term relationship, and that help you keep a relationship strong. Global Glue is all about keeping people together, and we feel that this neglected corner of poetry can help provide some guidance.
We readily admit that John Keats- who is the epitome of the tragic romantic who died young, leaving only beauty in his wake- might be an odd choice for poems about long-term relationships. But Book I of his epic classic Endymion begins:
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
It’s loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness, but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Your relationship is a thing of beauty, scars and troubles and disagreements and all. Keats reminds us that your love brought something beautiful into the world, and that beauty was your love. The world is made better when two people find a love, and even if that gets buried underneath the mundanity of everyday life, remember that its loveliness increases, simply by dint of endurance. There is a joy to that, that in a world rife with horror, there is still a space for your love, with its quiet breathing.
Donne: Loves Growth
As we said in the introduction, love usually starts with a burst and then tempers off. We almost expect it to do so, and in a way, set ourselves up for that failure. We assume that things will become dull, but they don’t have to. We can understand that our lives are made richer by having someone to walk with, and that relationships can have passion simply by holding hands down that path. A relationship can be a constant surprise, and can keep growing, like spring grass, if you let it. Donne reminds us of this.
I scarce believe my love to be so pure
as I thought it was
because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass;
Me thinks I lied all winter, when I swore
My love was infinite, if spring make’it more
Yeats is maybe the great poet of aging, even if he turned into a crank. Aging isn’t just about getting older- it is about getting wiser, too. Grow old with your partner not in years, but in experience, in shared moments, in the hard truths that are revealed when you, a flawed person, yoke your life to another. It’s exciting, and scary, but real knowledge comes from that.
Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun
Now I may wither into the truth
Rumi: Music Masters (Coleman Barks translation)
Rumi is the explosive Persian poet of incandescent love and transcendental, lyrical, ecstatic sexual spirituality. Like Keats, it may seem strange to involve him in this. But he loved his Shams his whole life, and their relationship never stopped flowering, even when separated for years and by continents. The reason for this is because they both recognized each other as not just kindred spirits, but unique people.
When I’m with you, we stay up all night
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep
Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them
It’s easy to assume that even the person you are closest to is somehow a supporting player in your movie. We’re all the protagonist in our own lives. But always being fully aware that your partner is a person opens you up to thousands of those all-night conversations, where you can’t sleep, where you are exploring the depths of their minds, their hearts, their souls. A relationship is a constant adventure, a treasure hunt to find the other person. And, as Rumi reminds us, the hunt isn’t that far.
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere
They’re in each other all along
Share your favorite love poetry, and don’t miss out on upcoming Global Glue talks- get your tickets today!