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Meaning of Love
Posted by: Jean-Paul Bonhomme (
Date: December 09, 2003 12:44AM

What does love mean to you?

I know that one of the best ways to show love is to put the other person's interests ahead of your own.
Of course, the best example of love is our creator. If we want to learn how to love, we need to constantly try to imitate him.

Right, LON?

Jean-Paul Bonhomme

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: IanB (
Date: December 09, 2003 06:30AM

Is this a poetry question?

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Jean-Paul Bonhomme (
Date: December 09, 2003 03:07PM

I didn't pose the question right.
I am looking for examples of poems centered on UNromantic love, whether it be love for child, parent, neighbor etc.
Sorry, I tend to be unclear sometimes. Instead, I think out loud.

Jean-Paul Bonhomme

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: -Les- (
Date: December 09, 2003 03:32PM

Here's one, there are many more. Go to the Classic Poets section, type in Love in the search box.

Great Lover, The
by Rupert Brooke

I have been so great a lover: filled my days
So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise,
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,
Desire illimitable, and still content,
And all dear names men use, to cheat despair,
For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear
Our hearts at random down the dark of life.
Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,
My night shall be remembered for a star
That outshone all the suns of all men's days.
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see
The inenarrable godhead of delight?
Love is a flame; -- we have beaconed the world's night.
A city: -- and we have built it, these and I.
An emperor: -- we have taught the world to die.
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,
And the high cause of Love's magnificence,
And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that men may know,
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming. . . .
These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such --
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year's ferns. . . .
Dear names,
And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;
Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass; --
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass,
Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.
They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust
And sacramented covenant to the dust.
---- Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what's left of love again, and make
New friends, now strangers. . . .
But the best I've known,
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies.
Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again
This one last gift I give: that after men
Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed,
Praise you, "All these were lovely"; say, "He loved."


Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 09, 2003 04:00PM

I can't read that one without thinking of this one:

Sonnet to Rupert Brooke

We laid him in a cool and shadowed grove
One evening, in the dreamy scent of time,
Where leaves were green, and whispered high above
-- A grave as humble as it was sublime;
There, dreaming in the fading deeps of light, --
The hands that thrilled to touch a woman's hair;
Brown eyes, that loved the Day and looked on Night,
A soul that found at last its answered prayer ...

There daylight, as a dust, slips through the trees,
And drifting, gilds the fern about his grave --
Where even now, perhaps, the evening breeze
Steals shyly past the tomb of him who gave
New sight to blinded eyes; who sometimes wept --
A short time dearly loved; and after, -- slept.
-- John Gillespie Magee

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: December 09, 2003 04:47PM

Federico Garcia Lorca wrote an "Ode to Walt Whitman" that is a love poem in several senses. Lorca worshiped Whitman as a poet and as an idealist. You could also argue that his feelings were romantic and/or sexual ... but since he never MET Whitman, this will probably fit your category.

The Ode is posted (in English) at []


Don McLean's VINCENT is also a love song from one artist to another. The lyrics are posted in many places, including:
[] />

Psalm 137 (and others) expresses deep love for a PLACE -- a place that represents a whole culture and life.


You can find a lot of poems (in a wide range of styles) by net-searching for combinations such as [poem + "my son"] or [poem + "my daughter"] or [poem + "my dog"], etc.


Christopher Smart wrote an ode to his cat, which ends: "For I am possessed of a cat, surpassing in beauty, from whom I take occasion to bless almighty God."
Read it at:

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: joseph torelli (
Date: December 09, 2003 05:02PM

Tennyson'es "In Memoriam," though complex, is as loving a tribute to a friend as any poem I've ever read.

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: -Les- (
Date: December 09, 2003 05:18PM

The following is certainly one of my favorites:

The Thousandth Man

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
None hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By you looks, or your acts, or you glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of them call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot and after!

Rudyard Kipling

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Pam Adams (134.71.192.---)
Date: December 09, 2003 05:52PM

And another by RK, but in a sillier vein.


The Betrothed
by Rudyard Kipling

"You must choose between me and your cigar."

Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas -- we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.

Maggie is pretty to look at -- Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away --

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown --
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty -- grey and dour and old --
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar --

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket --
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila -- there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion -- bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent -- comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion -- to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stums that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider anew --
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba -- I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Jean-Paul (
Date: December 09, 2003 07:08PM

Beautiful poem Les.
One friend that even comes close to that description is all the friend you need;
however, uch a man as RK described, I'm afraid, doesn't exist.
Even the apostle Peter abandoned Jesus (though he had power of spirit)

A true friend is someone who knows everything about you and still likes you.

"I "Love Summer more than I hate Winter"

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: December 10, 2003 04:30PM

Jean-Paul's original posting said: "I know that one of the best ways to show love is to put the other person's interests ahead of your own." AND: "the best example of love is our creator. If we want to learn how to love, we need to constantly try to imitate him."

BOY could I go on for a while about how both halves of that get mis-interpreted. As briefly as possible:

(1) People make the mistake of putting someone else's DESIRES ahead of their own interests, and that is not love. Clear example: If someone you love is addicted to drugs. What they WANT is not what they NEED.
(2) People also make the mistake of thinking that "imitation" of God and/or Christ means being super-human, and that way lies a nervous breakdown.
Also, I'm wary of definitions of love that involve "more/less than one's self," because people vary so much in their self-esteem. It's TOO easy for someone in deep depression to put everyone else first.

So the challenge == and yes, I WILL bring this around to poetry, bear with me == the challenge is to keep both questions in mind and live with the need to "muddle through" a certain amount.

Let's say that it's in your interests to become a member of My Church, and God is that which will send you to Hell if you don't. Do you want to read the poem I just wrote about you?

But now let's say that it's in your interests to become as fully and joyfully yourself as possible. Let's say that God is that which sees your fullest self even when you can't see it; who doesn't fix things for you, but guides you to the bridges you need to cross to find yourself. Now THAT kind of love, I could use ... and THAT could be the stuff of poetry.


Did I say POETRY? Okay, here's why. Sometimes I "test" love poems--or more often a song lyrics--by seeing if they would work if sung (1) person-to-person, (2) person to God, and/or (3) God to person. It's not a test of quality, just a way of thinking about them.

(I wrote a paragraph of examples, but erased it. Try it yourself if you're interested.)

Re: Meaning of Love
Posted by: Jean-Paul (205.233.28.---)
Date: December 10, 2003 09:01PM

The tricky part, as you said, is identifying what is actually in that person's best interest. Remember.balance.
As for God, we can never be as good as him but we were created in his image with the capacity to love being one of them. Better to learn from a perfect source than an imperfect source.
Our understanding of these principles can have a profound effect on the direction of not only "Love" poems, but also many other subjects, particularly those that reflect on our human qualities (and failings).

"I "Love Summer more than I hate Winter"

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