On one of Keats’s less famous poems about unrequited love
‘O love me truly!’ as a poetic refrain is likely to inspire disgust at the poet’s desperation rather than sympathy, but then desperation can be dangerously close to despair, and John Keats (1795-1821) knew better than most what it felt like to experience the pain of hopeless love. In his short and little-known poem ‘You Say You Love’, Keats addresses a woman who doesn’t return his love.
You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun’s, who singeth
The soft Vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth –
O love me truly!
You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September, Read the rest of this entry
The finest poems about grief
Grief is a part of life, and we will all know what it is to mourn at some point in our lives. Here are ten of the finest poems about the experience of grieving and mourning, taken from over 600 years of poetry…
Anonymous, ‘Why have ye no routhe on my child?’ This poem is a lament for a lost child: ‘rode’ is the ‘rood’ or Cross, and ‘routhe’ is ‘ruth’ or compassion – which is why someone who lacks compassion is described as ‘ruthless’. Click on the link above to read the poem, which is the sixth on our list of the best medieval poems. It’s the oldest poem on this list, dating back at least six centuries to the late fourteenth century, though it may be even older.
John Donne, ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’. As this poem’s title suggests, it’s a poem of farewell, written by Donne for his wife Anne in 1611-12 before he left England to go on a mission to Europe. Utilising metaphors of compass points and alchemical processes to describe the relationship between the husband and wife, ‘A Valediction’ is one of the finest examples of Metaphysical poetry. Read the rest of this entry
What is the meaning of this curious Blake poem?
Is it always best to tell someone you have feelings for them? Is it sometimes better to withhold your true feelings, and not confess your love? Obviously this depends, but this underappreciated short poem by William Blake explains why sometimes it’s better to have loved and kept quiet than to have blabbed about the depth of your affections.
Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
I told my love I told my love
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears
Ah she doth depart Read the rest of this entry