A Lovely Love by Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000).
Unusual for me, but I decided to participate in the Poetry Foundation's Audio Poems for Valentine's Day promotion, and I've embedded my reading in this blog post. The poem I've chosen is also unusual as love poems go. "A Lovely Love" by Gwendolyn Brooks is similar to Shakespeare's "My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun." Just as Shakespeare wrote of a love who did not fit the stereotype of a physically beautiful love (a woman with cherry lips and flowing hair), Brooks writes of a love born in far less than idyllic environment. You'll find no garden or starry night there, no Star of Bethlehem or royalty attending either as appeared at the birth of Jesus, the perfect symbol of love for many.
I saw the Poetry Foundation article encouraging people to record love poems and felt compelled to do so. Valentine's Day, however, is not a holiday I get into. I didn't even pay close attention to it when I was married. Perhaps I didn't want to be disappointed if my former husband forgot about it and didn't acknowledge me.
Furthermore, in elementary school, Valentine's Day was a horrible day for me because there were some people who used the day not to say I love you, but to make sure I knew they didn't like me or others they deemed outcasts. If you've experienced, that then you know what I mean--the popular girl comes in with cards for a select few and makes a production of handing them out, which then makes those who didn't get one obviously rejected. I was never allowed to do that. My mother made me give cards to everyone, and she probably did that because she was an elementary school teacher and had noticed the nasty gestures at her own school.
In fact, I think my mother's spirit may be the reason I recorded a poem for the Poetry Foundation on SoundCloud. She loved Gwendolyn Brooks, and Valentine's Day is her birthday. She passed way in 2008, and I miss her.
If you'd like the the text for "A Lovely Love," here it is at this link.