All You Need is Love, Love

This year is not a leap year, so February has its signature twenty eight days. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere often consider this the final month of winter, though climate change may cause reconsideration of this at some point. Often the subject of love comes up, most certainly on account of Valentines Day falling somewhere in the middle of the muddle that is February. My kids would say it’s a Hallmark construction meant to sell cards, but those of us who’ve been around awhile know how important it is to take a pause and let those around us know how much they mean to us. If Hallmark has to put us to the pitchfork to make it happen, well, then I must say bravo, card makers everywhere!

I recently came across a poem entitled “To Dorothy” by Marvin Bell who passed away in 2020. It goes like this:

You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
You let a weed grow by the mulberry
and a mulberry grow by the house.
So close, in the personal quiet
of a windy night, it brushes the wall
and sweeps away the day till we sleep.

A child said it, and it seemed true:
“Things that are lost are all equal.”
But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
the air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.

My heart sings at the profound love expressed in this simple, modern ode to Dorothy. And she’s not “beautiful, exactly.” Isn’t there a piece of this that we can all relate to?

Another piece, Sonnet 66, by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is entitled “I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You.” It goes like this:

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.”

Blind love, binding love, love that endures will surely be somewhere in Mr. Neruda’s epitaph.

This next one, by Nikki Giovanni, is very uptempo and fun. Entitled “You Have Me,” it captures the duality of life in many forms.

“Rain has drops
Sun has shine
Moon has beams
That make you mine
Rivers have banks
Sands for shores
Hearts have heartbeats
That make me yours
Needles have eyes
Though pins may prick
Elmer has glue
To make things stick
Winter has Spring
Stockings feet
Pepper has mint
To make it sweet
Teachers have lessons
Soup du jour
Lawyers sue bad folks
Doctors cure
All and all
This much is true
You have me
And I have you”

These poems seem to capture three essentials of love that might be found in combination or individually at any one time: adoration, commitment, and contentment. February is our time to celebrate love in whatever form it takes in our lives, to express our appreciation and pay special attention to those people and animals around us who help fulfill our lives. Valentine’s Day is a day to give, to reach out so much more than we ever expect to receive. As the Beatles once sang, “All you need is love, love.”

Happy Valentine’s Day to friends and family!

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