Here are two love poems, very different in mood. One is tender, wistful, melancholy, the other bawdy, funny, exuberant. I have always liked Philip Larkin, but the next poem by Charles Simic is a hoot. That’s not a word normally used to describe a poem – even comic verse is usually called “funny” or “witty”, but that’s what it is – a hoot – LOL, laugh-out-loud. It couldn’t be more cheeky, more unabashed, more frankly naughty.
Love Songs In Old Age
By Philip Larkin
She kept her songs, they kept so little space,
The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
And coloured, by her daughter –
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood
Relearning how each frank submissive chord
Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,
The glare of that much-mentionned brilliance, love,
Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.
We don’t even take time
To come up for air.
We keep our mouths full and busy
Eating bread and cheese
And smooching in between.
No sooner have we made love
Than we are back in the kitchen.
While I chop the hot peppers,
She grins at me
And stirs the shrimp on the stove.
How good the wine tastes
That has run red
Out of a laughing mouth!
Down her chin
And on to her naked tits.
“I’m getting fat,” she says,
Turning this way and that way
Before the mirror.
“I’m crazy about her shrimp!’
I shout to the gods above.
(See also Selected Poems)