Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lasting Words of Love

NPR's Morning Edition recently marked the 400th anniversary of Shakepeare's sonnets and asked its listeners if there were any modern love poems or songs that they thought could be remembered 400 years from now. The suggestions varied from songs by Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee", and lyrics from Billy Idol and Pearl Jam. Some listeners recommended poems by Pablo Neruda (Poem #20), E.E. Cummings, and one of my personal favorites, "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden. The first time I heard that poem was in the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral". To this day, when I think of that poem, the voice I hear in my head is that of John Hannah, the Scottish actor that recited it in the movie. Here it is for those of you unfamiliar with this beautiful poem:

Funeral Blues
by W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good

If you'd like to make a suggestion on a poem or song that has staying power, you still can. Add your suggestion to the comments section of "Love Words with Staying Power?" at the NPR site. My personal entry was a poem that speaks to my heart:

At Last
by Elizabeth Akers Allen

At last, when all the summer shine
That warmed life's early hours is past,
Your loving fingers seek for mine
And hold them close—at last—at last!
Not oft the robin comes to build
Its nest upon the leafless bough
By autumn robbed, by winter chilled,—
But you, dear heart, you love me now.

Though there are shadows on my brow
And furrows on my cheek, in truth,—
The marks where Time's remorseless plough
Broke up the blooming sward of Youth,—
Though fled is every girlish grace
Might win or hold a lover's vow,
Despite my sad and faded face,
And darkened heart, you love me now!

I count no more my wasted tears;
They left no echo of their fall;
I mourn no more my lonesome years;
This blessed hour atones for all.
I fear not all that Time or Fate
May bring to burden heart or brow,—
Strong in the love that came so late,
Our souls shall keep it always now!