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The Well Read Poem

Feb 14, 2022

In this seventh season, we are reading six poems about romantic love. Love may seem to be the most fundamental subject for poetry, but interestingly, it is not. When we consider the great poetic traditions of almost any people, we find that love is by no means the first matter that has inspired their poets. The poems we will read together come from several different periods in time, and I would like to examine, among other things, how the language of romance has changed in the English-speaking world over the centuries. Today's piece is "Love Poem" by John Frederick Nims. Poem begins at timestamp 5:52.

Love Poem

by John Frederick Nims

My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers' terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly maneuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love's unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.