‘At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet’Plato, The Symposium
Every year, when Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, you are always bombarded with ways to impress and surprise your partner. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, bouquets of red roses, super adorable teddy bears which carry the message ‘I love you’, and some delicious recipes that will make you and your other half think that “the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach”. However tempted you might feel, try not to overdo it with these recipes because you will end up confirming the other saying that “true love is getting fat together”. As fancy and special the above ideas might sound, they seem to be more a celebration of flower and candy shops than of love itself. Praising the grandeur of love can instead involve the two things that likely never leave your messy desk: a piece of paper and a pen. One of the powers that love endows us with is inspiration, which along with a whirlwind romance can turn a page into an ocean of emotions. This expression of love is quite often seen in poems that either point out the unbearable pain of romantic love or admire this unique feeling of infatuation.
Nevertheless, the portrayal of love in poetry is often viewed as “melodramatic”, a fact that might discourage one to experiment with this literary genre because s/he will often be labelled as a “hopeless romantic”. Given that we are daily surrounded by poems, from advertisements to songs, it is rather strange that love poetry is considered old-fashioned. A possible explanation though is that people avoid writing down their feelings because they are either unaware of them, or struggle to suppress them since the expression of emotions is regarded as a sign of weakness nowadays.
Contrary to this mindset, poets of the Romanticism Movement would attach great importance to emotions and self-expression. However, is the glorification of emotions linked to one’s utopia? Emotions constitute an integral part of our identities, and they are nothing but the sine qua non of our lives. Writing love poems will not only make one get in touch with emotions and cease burying them but will also contribute to a harmonious relationship. Learning to identify your emotions and name them is a process that can contribute to a healthy relationship and poetry can be a good start. Demonstrating this, I will display below a poem of mine that is closely related to the aforementioned concept.
To the Loves of my Life
Opening the dusty box of memories
I found you laying down with your enemies
Those who desperately fought to conquer my world
And you persistently questioned their worth
Something triggered your thoughts
All the loves of my life were hidden at the brightest corner of my inner thoughts
The ones I would dare not to confront
For they arouse feelings of happiness and despair
Do you believe that these feelings are not compared?
Oh, they are the main ingredients of love
A potion of tears, laugh, regret
That will make one forget about death
Like Romeo and Juliet whose love remained eternal
In every book, in every journal
And love ends up being reborn
Would you dear open that box?
This poem could very well be a celebration of many loves that crossed our path, such as romantic, platonic, and unrequited loves. Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic relationships and, more specifically, with couples. Nevertheless, the notion of romantic love (Eros) includes several types of love that either occur along the timeline of a love affair or during different periods in one’s lifespan. For instance, at a younger age or in the course of the honeymoon phase people tend to be more passion-driven and as this ardour wears off it is usually replaced by affection. In other words, as the title of the poem indicates, loves come in many forms and many faces.
If someone asked you what romantic love means for you, what would your first reminiscence be like? A pan of soft, fluffy, vanilla-scented cinnamon rolls or a tart with a creamy lemon custard feeling? Whatever your taste memory is, it has molded your current self, your mindset and, thus your identity. Lovers, partners, crushes come and go but your poems about them accompany you for the rest of your life and remind you of who you were and who you are. To create a powerful version of your present self, I invite you all to close your eyes and picture your future self while reading one of the poems I wrote as a result of an instant moment of inspiration:
Twenty years from now, on a winter’s night as you are sipping your red wine
You bump into that carton box where you thought you kept your mismatched socks
Instead, you get surprised to see a collection of poems with some good rhymes
You think how foolish you were to believe that love is the doorstep to a happy end
Suddenly though you end up being touched by what remained undiscussed
It is yourself you are looking at and not some random art
You might still doubt that poetry can have that kind of impact on you in the future because you haven’t tried yet. Today, I challenge you all to write a love poem for your loved ones in the comments section. What you will discover by writing poems about love may go beyond self-expression; love poetry scratches the surface of your deeper self and urges you to answer some questions you haven’t even thought about. At the very beginning, it is very likely that you will all feel like troubadours who are trying to impress the one that keeps haunting their dreams by expressing their courtly love. Subsequently, poetry will act as relief for the accumulation of burdensome thoughts and then, it will develop as a form of art that bears your style of writing and, therefore, it will be unique for every one of you. Poetry can become your friend at every moment and event, and if you are still thinking about how to express your feelings to a special someone on Valentine’s Day give it a try and feel free to improvise and write your own verses, ones that make you feel yourself. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
About the author
Ioana Meta is currently studying an MRes in Translation and Interpreting Studies at Surrey University and she holds a special interest in writing love poetry. Because of her passion of languages, sometimes she translates some of her poems from English to Greek and vice versa. When not writing or studying, Ioana will be dancing in the rhythms of salsa!
 Ancient Greek word for passionate love and desire