Don’t make me choose between these two beautiful love poems by women.
One is ancient, by a Roman poetess, and the other by contemporary Irishwoman. The older poem treats a memory of a straight relationship, the newer one…leaves room for lots of imagination.
First, a work by Sulpicia (circa 20 BCE):
Finally a Love Has Come
Finally a love has come which would cause me more shame were Rumor to conceal it rather than lay it bare for all.
Won over by my Muses, the Cytherean goddess brought me him, and placed him in my bosom.
Venus has discharged her promise; if anyone is said to have had no joys of his own, let him tell of mine.
I would not wish to entrust anything to sealed tablets, lest anyone read my words before my lover does.
But I delight in my wayward ways and loathe to dissemble for fear of Rumor. Let me be told of:
I am a worthy woman who has been together with a worthy man.
And now a poem by Nuala Ni Dhomnaill (b. 1952):
I’d make a bed for you
in the tall grass
under the wrestling trees
where your skin
would be silk
in the darkness
when the moths are coming down.
Skin which glistens
shining over your limbs
like milk being poured
from jugs at dinnertime;
your hair is a herd of goats
moving over rolling hills,
hills that have high cliffs
and two ravines.
And your damp lips
would be as sweet as sugar
at evening and we walking
by the riverside
with honeyed breezes
blowing over the Shannon
and the fuschias bowing down to you
one by one.
The fuschias bending low
their solemn heads in obeisance to the beauty
in front of them
I would pick a pair of flowers
as pendant earrings
to adorn you
like a bride in shining clothes.
O I’d make a bed for you
in the twilight hour
with evening falling slow
and what a pleasure it would be
to have our limbs entwine
while the moths are coming down.
Happy Valentine’s weekend to you and your loved ones, y’all.