It finally happened: same-sex marriage bans have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, making marriage equality the wave of the present, not the future. And what better way to commemorate such a momentous and beautiful cultural shift than with love poems that celebrate the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling and the power of love, in general? There is none, except getting gay married oneself, and unfortunately, not all of us can do that! *wink*
I also want to give a quick shout-out, because this long and tedious national debate would be far from settled without the tireless work of chief marriage equality crusader Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She’s been an avid proponent for eons now, even officiating same-same weddings, one as recently as last month where her nod to constitutionality during the ceremony caused a stir and became an equivocal, but optimistic harbinger for today's ruling. Thank you, Justice Ginsburg, you’re our favorite for so many reasons, but this one is definitely up there.
So in honor of this historic ruling, we're celebrating the boundlessness of love — because love is not confined to sexual orientation or societal norms, no matter how much some wish it were — and here are five poems that do just that. Enjoy, and mazel tov! I hope everyone feels at least a little bit queer today.
1. "Sonnet X" — Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeedAnd worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,Let temple burn, or flax; an equal lightLeaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed:And love is fire. And when I say at needI love thee . . . mark! . . . I love thee—in thy sightI stand transfigured, glorified aright,With conscience of the new rays that proceedOut of my face toward thine. There's nothing lowIn love, when love the lowest: meanest creaturesWho love God, God accepts while loving so.And what I feel, across the inferior featuresOf what I am, doth flash itself, and showHow that great work of Love enhances Nature's.
2. "Ditty Of First Desire" — Federico García Lorca
In the green morningI wanted to be a heart.A heart.
And in the ripe eveningI wanted to be a nightingale.A nightingale.
(Soul,turn orange-colored.Soul,turn the color of love.)
In the vivid morningI wanted to be myself.A heart.
And at the evening's endI wanted to be my voice.A nightingale.
Soul,turn orange-colored.Soul,turn the color of love.
4. "For What As Easy" — W. H. Auden
For what as easy For what thought small, For what is well Because between, To you simply From me I mean.
Who goes with who The bedclothes say, As I and you Go kissed away, The data given, The senses even.
Fate is not late, Nor the speech rewritten, Nor one word forgotten, Said at the start About heart, By heart, for heart.
3. "Sonnet XXIVVV" — Edna St. Vincent Millay
When we are old and these rejoicing veinsAre frosty channels to a muted stream,And out of all our burning their remainsNo feeblest spark to fire us, even in dream,This be our solace: that it was not saidWhen we were young and warm and in our prime,Upon our couch we lay as lie the dead,Sleeping away the unreturning time.O sweet, O heavy-lidded, O my love,When morning strikes her spear upon the land,And we must rise and arm us and reproveThe insolent daylight with a steady hand,Be not discountenanced if the knowing knowWe rose from rapture but an hour ago.
5. "At the Gym" — Mark Doty
This salt-stain spotmarks the place where menlay down their heads,back to the bench,
and hoist nothingthat need be liftedbut some burden they've chosenthis time: more reps,
more weight, the upward shoveof it leaving, collectively,this sign of where we've been:shroud-stain, negative
flashed onto the vinylwhere we push somethingunyielding skyward,gaining some power
at least over flesh,which goads with desire,and terrifies with frailty.Who could say who's
added his heat to the nimbusof our intent, here wherewe make ourselves:something difficult
lifted, pressed or curled,Power over beauty,power over power!Though there's something more
tender, beneath our vanity,our will to become objectsof desire: we sweat the markof our presence onto the cloth.
Here is some halothe living made together.
And here's one more piece of recommended reading, except careful: this one's NSFW. *double wink*