Love Speaks Its Name: Gay and Lesbian Love Poems

Overview

From Sappho to Shakespeare to Cole Porter–a marvelous and wide-ranging collection of classic gay and lesbian love poetry.

The poets represented here include Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Gertrude Stein, Federico García Lorca, Djuna Barnes, Constantine Cavafy, Elizabeth Bishop, W. H. Auden, and James Merrill. Their poems of love are among the most perceptive, the most passionate, the wittiest, and the most moving we have. From Michelangelo’s “Love Misinterpreted” to Noël Coward’s ...

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Overview

From Sappho to Shakespeare to Cole Porter–a marvelous and wide-ranging collection of classic gay and lesbian love poetry.

The poets represented here include Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Gertrude Stein, Federico García Lorca, Djuna Barnes, Constantine Cavafy, Elizabeth Bishop, W. H. Auden, and James Merrill. Their poems of love are among the most perceptive, the most passionate, the wittiest, and the most moving we have. From Michelangelo’s “Love Misinterpreted” to Noël Coward’s “Mad About the Boy,” from May Swenson’s “Symmetrical Companion” to Muriel Rukeyser’s “Looking at Each Other,” these poems take on both desire and its higher power: love in all its tender or taunting variety.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375411700
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/15/2001
  • Series: Pocket Poets Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 649,921
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

J. D. McClatchy is the author of four books of poetry, two books of literary essays, and four opera libretti. He is editor of The Yale Review and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
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Read an Excerpt

"I Have Had Not One Word From Her "
by Sappho
(trans. by Mary Barnard)

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead.
When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, "This parting must be endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly."

I said, "Go, and be happy but remember (you know well) whom you leave shackled by love

"If you forget me, think of our gifts to Aphrodite and all the loveliness that we shared

"all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and crocus twined around your young neck

"myrrh poured on your head and on soft mats girls with all that they most wished for beside them

"while no voices chanted choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song . . ."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2004

    'Have you his lovely image still in mind...'

    This small, elegant, durable, succinct, haunting volume of poems dares to speak the words, thoughts, feelings, and longings inspired by gay and lesbian desire. The poems have been selected and edited by J.D. McClatchy. The poems are grouped into 6 main sections titled: Longing; Looking; Loving; Ecstasy; Anxiety; Aftermath. Most of the poems are short, but create the same haunting, sometimes startling effect of ancient epigrams...for in almost all there is that special thought, or turn of phrase, which immediately speaks to the heart and mind, and causes them to say in unison, 'Ah, yes...so it is.' The Foreword by J.D. McClatchy is remarkable and sets the perfect prologue for the immediacy and aptness of the poems which follow. 'This is a book, first of all about desire. A desire can be a vague wish, a sharp craving, a steadfast longing, a helpless obsession. It can signal an absence or a presence, a need or a commitment, an ideal or an impossibility. The root of the word 'desire' links it to -consider- and to terms for investigation and augury, thereby reminding us that desire is often less what we feel than what we think about what we feel. *** It is the heart of our hearts, the very stuff of the self.' A few examples of 'telling' phrases reveal the truth and affirmation of aptness of the insights: 'Desire darts about your loveliness'; 'What my heart most hopes will happen, make happen'; 'I should have thought/ in a dream you would have brought/some lovely, perilous thing'; 'Your voice watered the dune of my breast'; 'But hurry, so together, intertwined, mouths bruised with love and souls bitten, time will find us wasted.'; 'Come to me/whisper your name'; 'Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently/approaching and seating himself near, that he may/hold me by the hand.'; 'his head was/ inclined toward me,/ And his arm lay lightly around my breast -- and that night I was happy.' And finally, two further thoughts from the Foreword: 'So this is a book, in the end, about both desire and its higher power, about love in its tender or taunting variety. *** If love can be any life's true contentment, it is also a restless emotion. That is why this book circles love's stages.' // Come sit beside me, lovely one, in the van of frisky baseball players/ with the evening sun, shining through the window/ upon your tanned, bronze-haired legs... 'she says she wants to...' someone yells, you smile, look startled,/ and silently I assent within,/ 'And so would I.' -- R.K.

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