{Mon 14 February 2011}   Do different loves spawn different poetry?
Do different loves spawn different poetry?

Thinking about Valentine’s Day, and the Love Poetry event at King’s Place tonight, to which I am looking forward immensely, I suddenly wondered which of my own poems had been inspired by love, in the sense of romantic love. I am a very occasional poet, but, as for most people, those occasions are often linked to love, or the loss of it.

Of course, I’m interested in the nature of love in its broadest sense, an interest developed through my years in the Christian church, where we were taught to categorise love into agápē (God’s love — sacrificial love, the highest kind, a matter of choice), philia (brotherly love or friendship – the next best, perhaps imperfect, but also a matter of virtuous choice), storge (familial affection — a love to be expected, as good and natural) and eros (romantic love — also a natural love, but a dangerous and unreliable one, to be outwitted, outwaited, carefully managed, or repressed … and never trusted).

Nowadays, although I still find these concepts useful, I don’t see any of them as exclusive to particular types of relationship, which, I guess, reflects my more mature view of humans as psycho-sexual-spiritual beings who are inevitably always all of these things in all relationships. As the Wikipedia entries point out, the ancient Greek terms encompassed a wide range of concepts and affections. But the goal of Christian teaching is usually to simplify life, rather than to revel in its complexity, so the above simple English translations and the relative values assigned to them by my teachers were what stuck for a very long time.

And yet, despite this drilling in the compartmentalisation of love, when I looked through the paltry collection of my own poems, I was startled to realise that I had never read or examined the love poems as a group. Each was born in its own time, and each out of a different relationship or phase in my life, and although I have worked on each of them for years, I have never related them to each other. In retrospect, this seems strange, so today I looked at my poems to see a.) which I could call love poems and b.) whether I could sort them into the ancient Greek groups.

While in this “grouping” mode, I’ve enjoyed reviewing the more agápē-oriented poems arising from my spiritual quest, but that’s a post for another day. Valentine’s Day is the day for contemplating romantic love (and friendship, I think, because there is often so much overlap). With these poems, I was surprised to see, firstly, how they reveal precisely that tendency toward synthesis of which I’m now conscious, and secondly, how different they are from each other. At least, to me, they seem different from each other. I wonder if another reader would be struck by similarities or differences?



Auden wrote somewhere (I read it in the Davenport-Hines biography some years ago now) that every poem he wrote in one way or another was written for and about love. For myself, I find that love is a very emotion. A negative and destructive one that eats away at the heart. There are very few happy love poems that are any good. Divine Love in Islam is connected to Virtue and Righteousness (the Arabic word Taqwa which has also been translated as God-consciousness). It is measured by one’s immersion in Godly attributes and in terms of one’s being with God and in God. There is also the Earthly/carnal love which is temporal, flippant, negligent but can also be fulfilling and bordering on the Divine and the Mystical.

Your poems are really amazing. I particularly like how you are able to capture the essence of a feeling, the emotions and connect them to the imagery in the poems. I think there is a term for it which, right now, eludes me.

Tia says:

Hmm, I guess it all depends on one’s definition of love. As I said above, I tend to an inclusive view now – it seems crazy to think that, if there is a creator-god, s/he would be excluded from any kind of love. After all, humans’ main reason for creating (oops, sorry, finding) God is because of our need for love. I believe that all our different loves, however broken, are different ways of reaching for perfection (wholeness).

Thank you very much for your kind words about my poems. I would like to return similar attention to some of yours, but I could not see any on your blog!

I spent ages trying to trace my poems online and posted some links. Then my page froze so I’m unsure if they reached you, if not I can do it all over again and send you an email or try posting them here again.

Tia says:

Hi Rehan,
Thanks, I have just seen all your FB messages with the links, and I replied there. Don’t you think it would make more sense for so many links to your own poems to be displayed on your own blog, so that your readers could find them and comment on them there?

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