When I decided to write about poetry the first Wednesday of each month this year, I thought February would be easy. Poetry books are filled with beautiful love poems that help us celebrate the season of Saint Valentine’s Day. At closer look though, many of them fell short, feeling trite, tragic or melodramatic. As important as love is, I’m taking my choice seriously here.
I almost went with a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning or another written by her husband Robert Browning. But those poems are about romantic love and, as we all know, that’s not the only kind of love that exists. It is widely thought that there are four basic types of love, which come from Greek words. Eros is romantic love. Philia is brotherly love or friendship. Storge is familial love. Agape is the love of mankind. (Hallmark is cashing in on all of them!)
As I searched for the perfect poem, a well-known scripture kept running across my mind. You’ve probably heard it recited at many a wedding. The Apostle Paul wrote it in a letter to the people of Corinth telling them their problems stemmed from a lack of love for one another.
Especially around Valentine’s Day we tend to think of love in deep, flowery and abstract ways. We like to turn love inside out and upside down making it so complicated and dramatic, so convoluted and difficult. The verses from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 do read a bit like poetry, employing literary devices including repetition, tone and rhythm.
But Paul’s lovely words offer us a practical, crystal clear list of what love is and what love is not. So when we get confused about this crazy little thing called love, these poetic verses make for a simple, holistic and beautiful reminder.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. §
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:13
One thought on “February Poetry ~ a surprising choice?”
A good reminder, Alicia, that love goes beyond the commercial and material concepts now associated with Valentine’s Day. I have also been researching literature associated with February this week and surprised of the limited mentions of the month (other than Valentines.) Perhaps this edge of winter left writers too weary to muster up anything other than odes to love.