Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Passionate Words...timeless expression

The Kiss, 1907, by Gustav Klimt
In researching love poems of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I ran across a passionate volume pulsing with the ardor of Belgian poet, Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916.) F. S. Flint wrote an English translation of his work which was published in 1916 by Constable and Company. So many of Verhaeren's poetic lines are suitable as the basis for Valentine cards, I can imagine many were springboards for World War I romantics on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps you will find a line or two with which to express your twenty-first century thoughts of love this Valentine's Day. Love, after all, is timeless.

In the spirit of true love, both freshly discovered and long lived, I present here a few of Verhaeren's poems as translated by Flint. To see the entire volume, visit: 

The Love Poems of 
Emile Verhaeren
The Love Letter by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841-1920)
May your bright eyes, your eyes of summer, be for me here on earth the images of goodness.
Let our enkindled souls clothe with gold each flame of our thoughts.
May my two hands against your heart be for you here on earth the emblems of gentleness.
Let us live like two frenzied prayers straining at all hours one towards the other.
May our kisses on our enraptured mouths be for us here on earth the symbols of our life.

And what matters the wherefores and the reasons, and who we were and who we are; all doubt is dead in this garden of blossoms that opens up in us and about us, so far from men.
I do not argue, and do not desire to know, and nothing will disturb what is but mystery and gentle raptures and involuntary fervour and tranquil soaring towards our heaven of hope.
I feel your brightness before understanding that you are so; and it is my gladness, infinitely, to perceive myself thus gently loving without asking why your voice calls me.
Let us be simple and good—and day be minister of light and affection to us; and let them say that life is not made for a love like ours.

Title Unknown, Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin,1860-1943
As in the simple ages, I have given you my heart, like a wide-spreading flower that opens pure and lovely in the dewy hours; within its moist petals my lips have rested.
The flower, I gathered it with fingers of flame; say nothing to it: for all words are perilous; it is through the eyes that soul listens to soul.
The flower that is my heart and my avowal confides in all simplicity to your lips that it is loyal, bright and good, and that we trust in virgin love as a child trusts in God.
Leave wit to flower on the hills in freakish paths of vanity; and let us give a simple welcome to the sincerity that holds our two true hearts within its crystalline hands;
Nothing is so lovely as a confession of souls one to the other, in the evening, when the flame of the uncountable diamonds burns like so many silent eyes the silence of the firmaments.

At the time when I had long suffered and the hours were snares to me, you appeared to me as the welcoming light that shines from the windows on to the snow in the depths of winter evenings.
The brightness of your hospitable soul touched my heart lightly without wounding it, like a hand of tranquil warmth.
Then came a holy trust, and an open heart, and affection, and the union at last of our two loving hands, one evening of clear understanding and of gentle calm.
Illustration for Saturday Evening Post 
by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, 1874-1951 
Since then, although summer has followed frost both in ourselves and beneath the sky whose eternal flames deck with gold all the paths of our thoughts;
And although our love has become an immense flower, springing from proud desire, that ever begins anew within our heart, to grow yet better;
I still look back on the small light that was sweet to me, the first.
Because you came one day so simply along the paths of devotion and took my life into your beneficent hands, I love and praise and thank you with my senses, with my heart and brain, with my whole being stretched like a torch towards your unquenchable goodness and charity.
Since that day, I know what love, pure and bright as the dew, falls from you on to my calmed soul. I feel myself yours by all the burning ties that attach flames to their fire; all my body, all my soul mounts towards you with tireless ardour; I never cease to brood on your deep earnestness and your charm, so much so that suddenly I feel my eyes fill deliciously with unforgettable tears.
And I make towards you, happy and calm, with the proud desire to be for ever the most steadfast of joys to you. All our affection flames about us; every echo of my being responds to your call; the hour is unique and sanctified with ecstasy, and my fingers are tremulous at the mere touching of your forehead, as though they brushed the wing of your thoughts.

Title Unknown, 1910 per Wikimedia Commons
In the house chosen by our love as its birth-place, with its cherished furniture peopling the shadows and the nooks, where we live together, having as sole witnesses the roses that watch us through the windows,
Certain days stand out of so great a consolation, certain hours of summer so lovely in their silence, that sometimes I stop time that swings with its golden disc in the oaken clock.
Then the hour, the day, the night is so much ours that the happiness that hovers lightly over us hears nothing but the throbbing of your heart and mine that are brought close together by a sudden embrace.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (And remember...all you need is love.)


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