Love poems by Brian Patten

It’s Valentine’s Day. So here are love poems as simple and heart-felt as the finest love songs. Brian Patten knows how to touch hearts and minds. The Mersey Sound, a slim Penguin paperback featuring poems by him, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough published in 1967, is one of the bestselling poetry anthologies of all time, according to Wikipedia. Patten is still good as ever. Visit his website for updates.

Someone’s Coming Back
By Brian Patten

Now that the summer has emptied
and laughter’s warned against possessions
and the swans have drifted from the rivers,
like one coming back from a long journey
no longer certain of his country
or of its tangled past and sorrows,
I am wanting to return to you.

When love affairs can no longer be distinguished from song
and the warm petals drop without regret,
and our pasts are hung in a dream of ruins,
I am wanting to come near to you.

For now the lark’s song has grown visible
and all that was dark is ever possible,
and the morning grabs me by the heart and screams,
‘O taste me! Taste me please!’

And so I taste. And the tongue is nude,
and eyes awake; the clear blood hums
a tune to which the world might dance;
and love which often lived in vaguer forms
bubbles up through sorrow and laughing, screams:
‘Oh taste me! Taste me please!’

By Brian Patten

Dressed you are a different creature.
Dressed you are polite, are discreet and full of friendships,
Dressed you are almost serious.
You talk of the world and of all its disasters
As if they really moved you.
Dressed you hold on to illusions.

The wardrobes are full of disguises,
The dress to be unbuttoned only in darkness,
The dress that seems always about to fall from you,
The touch-me-not dress, the how-expensive dress,
The dress slung on without caring.
Dressed you are a different creature.

You are indignant of the eyes upon you,
The eyes that crawl over you.
That feed on the bits you’ve allowed
To be naked.
Dressed you are imprisoned in labels,
You are cocooned in fashions,
Dressed you are a different creature.

As easily as in the bedrooms
In the fields littered with rubble
The dresses fall from you,
In the spare room the party never reaches
The dresses fall from you.
Aided or unaided, clumsily or easily,
The dresses fall from you and then
From you falls all the cheap blossom.
Undressed you are a different creature. 

That Dress, This Shirt
By Brian Patten

That dress won’t stop you growing older, no matter how you wear it —
Nor will this baggy shirt I wear disguise any more
A stomach growing fatter by the hour.
Now that we no longer have Time’s currency to squander,
Let’s get used to the raw material we are,
Let’s celebrate this far harder adventure
And stop carrying about the dead weight of Ago.
That dress, this shirt; we place them over chairs in rooms
Besides beds that set sail each night without expectation,
With us the crew, held together by love and by the faith
That we are buoyant enough to see any darkness through.

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