Whereas I admire the beauty of their language, their rich imagination and the loftiness of the ideals they express, I have a problem with the poetry of both Pablo Neruda and Shakespeare. It seems to me that poems such as this sonnet by Neruda and this one by Shakespeare do a disservice to love because they portray it in an idealised way. They do not help us to understand why love grows or why it dies away. As well as this, Neruda's and Shakespeare's sonnets tell us nothing about the narrator, nothing about the person he loves, nor anything of their relationship. The poems are abstract and impersonal.
This incited me to write a sonnet that speaks about love in a non-idealised way. It is not meant as a spoof. It's probably not a sonnet, perhaps not even a poem, but here goes:
How do I love you?
I love you through a series of accidents,
the accidents of your qualities matching my yearnings.
I love you through a chain of shared memories
and through the things we do together now,
through the paths of life we walk hand in hand.
I relate to you through a number of habits
not lofty ideals, but these small doings
are the common expressions of our love.
I love you not through words but through touch,
not through shared values but through affection,
not through common purpose
but through daily interaction.
Our love burns time
consuming it not like a flame
but slowing it down to a simmer.
We do nothing while together
yet that nothing means more
than getting things done.
Love is not a fixed thing
but a fluid process
that is renewed or diminished
in each minute.
The Wolf and The Dog by Jean de la Fontaine. Why did I translate this poem? Because it is a fine piece of poetry with something to say. I found three translations of it on the Net, all of them unfaithful to the original, so I decided to rectify this problem. My version does not rhyme but is close to both the spirit and letter of the original. Posted on 1 Nov 2006.
Highway 66 is a poem based on "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. I assembled this piece because I thought there was a fine poem hidden in pages 141 & 142 of Steinbeck's novel. Except for one line, all the text is pure Steinbeck, so he should take all the credit. Posted on 1 Nov 2006.
Reflected Venice is a poem I wrote inspired by my photos of water reflections in Venice. Posted on 11 April 2008.