Love poems by Brian Patten

I am reading Brian Patten again – after years. I first read his poems in a Penguin paperback called The Mersey Sound. It was an anthology of poems by three Liverpool poets – Patten, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. It was one of my favourite books and I have written about it before. Now I am once again reading Collected Love Poems by Brian Patten. And the pleasure’s all mine. Here are three poems which unaccountably I failed to mention the first time I read the book. The first poem is on the theme of constancy and the next two are so lyrical!

A Valentine
By Brian Patten

To be with one another forever and to have no doubt
(Nor feel exhaustion at the prospect)
Is the goal of those who, like us
Speak in whispers through the night.
Whose one fear is of how Eternity just might
Be too short a time,
And for whom the briefest separation is a crime.

Someone 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,
the 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:
“’O taste me! Taste me please!”

Not Only
By Brian Patten

Not only the leaf shivering with delight
Not only the grass shrugging off the weight of frost
Not only the taste of your skin
Not only steam rising from the morning river
Not only the heart on fire
Not only the sound of the sunflower roaring
Not only love’s resurrection
Not only the cathedral window deep in the raindrop
Not only the sky as blue and smooth as an egg
Not only the fairytale of forever
Not only the wings of the crane fly consumed by fire
Not only these things
But without you none of these things

(See also Selected Poems)

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