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A love poem

by nickb 

Posted: 12 September 2017
Word Count: 160
Summary: First attempt at a love poem, any ways of improving it gratefully received!

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Let us stand stock still, as we are,
the warp of my arm on the weft of your waist,
watch the sun sing across the garden
to the vale beyond, and face
the estuary on its turning tide.
Our shadows merge like a great standing stone.
In their slow drift East to West
they weave in whispers, shade on shade,
the story of our lives, our love.
This moment with you is a little resurrection.
I would stand here until the leaves fall,
all these long days on the hill
and in the moonlight as it dresses our shadow again.
Stay with me and hold me still
so that the rest of me unfurls.
Inarticulate, I would let the crow call
and blackbird chatter tell you what I am,
your shadow’s shadow.  I would pull your fabric close to mine.
This tapestry would show the night we met,
and, oh that kiss, that kiss we built a life on.

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 13:27 on 12 September 2017  Report this post
I’ve just read this poem, Nick, and I’m already moved by it and also admiring its imagery. Maybe a closer look will bring out some revision points. Soon as possible!

joanie at 17:55 on 12 September 2017  Report this post
Hi Nick.  I think that this is a beautiful love poem.   The second line is just gorgeous - warp and weft - delicious! 

I found that I was struggling a bit with the final stanza; in fact, after I wondered whether 'inarticulate' was the right word, and that 'on' wasn't a good way to end the poem, I thought that the last stanza could be dropped altogether and the poem could end with 'Stay with me and hold me still
so that the rest of me unfurls.'

What do you think?

I also found  'This moment with you is a little resurrection.' difficult to grasp, but I'm not sure why.

There are some lovely images here. I have enjoyed re-reading!


joanie at 18:19 on 12 September 2017  Report this post
PS....... Are you going to keep the title, or will you look for something different?  Because of the beautiful warp and weft, I think 'Woven' might be good!  I like titles too!


nickb at 08:00 on 13 September 2017  Report this post
Hi Joan, many thanks for your thoughts on this.  With regard to titles I have been struggling with it and the current one is very much a placeholder.  I like your suggestion.

I see your point about the final stanza. Reading it again I think I repeat "would" too many times.  I wanted to conclude the poem with something specific, a moment in time that the "target" of the poem would recognise (by the way the last line is a variation on Satchmo's song A Kiss to Build a Dream On which I heard on the radio a few weeks ago and sort of inspired the piece), but maybe it's overkill.  I'll contemplate that one.  Many thanks,


ronaldanne at 11:41 on 13 September 2017  Report this post
Hello Nick, I have some thoughts about this excellent love poem. I am not much of a love poem writer. For some reason I find that emotion hard to put into words. Maybe I am an ideas and images kind of writer - but enough about me.

I like Joan's suggestion for a title. It really does capture the image of the tapestry that runs throughout the poem.

There are so many good lines
the warp of my arm on the weft of your waist,
This moment with you is a little resurrection.
Stay with me and hold me still
so that the rest of me unfurls.
and, oh that kiss, that kiss we built a life on.
these in particular stand out, beautiful.

I don't have suggestions for changing any of the words, they all work as far as I am concerned. I would reorder some of the lines without changing them. I won't be presumptuous and rewrite your work.

Really you have a good poem here and it gets the emotion just right.


James Graham at 15:49 on 14 September 2017  Report this post
This is a superb love poem, Nick, and I second all the praise it’s already had. For me it’s distinguished in more than one way. As I read it, one word came into my head: harmony. You convey such a strong feeling of harmony, not only between two people but between them and the place where they stand. The feeling comes across through your imagery of weaving, culminating in a tapestry which shows a serene portrait of the couple. It comes across also through the sense of time standing still, or rather moving at an easy pace: ‘Let us stand stock still, as we are’, ‘slow drift East to West’, and best of all:

I would stand here until the leaves fall,
all these long days on the hill

Your third stanza is one of the best I’ve ever read. I’m not going over the top or indulging in flattery when I say this, but I think it measures up to some of the best writers of love poems – Marvell, Lovelace, Byron. I’m not going to analyse it except to say it’s full of that sense of timelessness and peace that is part of the harmony of the whole poem, and that it ends with these wonderful lines:

Stay with me and hold me still
so that the rest of me unfurls.

The simile of the standing stone made a strong impression on me too. The love between these two is associated with something that survives and remains the same through all the changes and upheavals of history. The same could be said of a tapestry, like the Bayeux – which doesn’t exactly portray peace and harmony but which survives through the ages.

Stanza 4 has been questioned a little, and maybe it’s a touch short of perfect. I’d like to give it some more thought and get back to you. Sorry to delay things again, but the group is so busy now and I’ve been immersed in a fascinating kind of Platonic symposium on Thomas’s poem ‘Sam Pye’. But you get priority now.


James Graham at 20:36 on 14 September 2017  Report this post
Hello again Nick. ‘Inarticulate’ is the wrong word. Normally it describes someone who has difficulty expressing him/ herself, long-term, not someone unable to express a specific thing at a particular time, which is the case in this poem. During this quiet, intimate time, the poem’s speaker cannot find words to say ‘what I am’. Roughly what you mean is, I’m lost for words, so I’ll let the crow and blackbird speak for me. It’s more nuanced than that, though.

Anyway ‘lost for words’ is a cliché. I wouldn’t want to use it in the poem. Trouble is, I can’t think  of an alternative, especially not a single near-synonym. Voiceless, perhaps, if it’s put into a context. I would suggest that you try to flesh out the idea in a phrase, or even better, a metaphor or simile.  This would fill out the line too much, but I would be prepared to sacrifice the crow and have something like:
Voiceless as…………….., I would let
the blackbird’s chatter tell you what I am
(Apostrophe ‘s’ after ‘blackbird’?)
Or else try to find a plain or figurative phrase that says something about searching in vain for words, or that the words don’t seem to exist, words won’t come when called, words are not eloquent enough, words don’t ‘sing’ sweetly enough. I hope something here will trigger an idea.
The only other change I’d make in this stanza is to omit ‘your shadow’s shadow’, though it’s hard to explain why except to say I struggle to get meaning out of this phrase. Anyway, having said I don’t know how to tell you what I am, the speaker goes on to say he is her ‘shadow’s shadow’. Better just leave it to the blackbird! Remember too that there’s nothing in the rest of the stanza about using language to express love: the tapestry is eloquent but wordless, and the kiss perhaps the most eloquent wordless way of expressing it.
Finally, a more tentative suggestion. Try transposing the 3rd and 4th stanzas, so that the 3rd becomes the last. I’ve done this in my Word copy of the poem, and it feels right. The tapestry lines look back to ‘the night we met’, recalling the beginning of their love, but the current 3rd stanza returns to the present and looks forward to their love continuing into the future. And to end the poem with those superb lines would leave any reader awestruck!
Stay with me and hold me still
so that the rest of me unfurls.
However what feels right to me may not feel right to you.  You’re the best judge of that.
You’ll publish this one, surely?

nickb at 08:08 on 15 September 2017  Report this post
Thank you so much for the generous feedback Ron and James.  Never in a million years did I ever think it would be mentioned in the same breath as Marvell, Lovelace or Byron, even in the smallest way!  Although the house I was born in was in Lovelace Drive in Pyrford so maybe that rubbed off a little!

I've tried transposing the 3rd and 4th stanza now as well and I agree it works better.  The bit I'm struggling with is replacing "your shadow's shadow" (one of the those phrases that I think sounds good but on further analysis is difficult to explain or justify).  I've tried:

"your heart's shadow"
"your heart's echo"

I'll keep thinkg for now.

It's my wife's 50th birthday in early October and this is for her.  I have a calligrapher standing by to turn it in to something that looks good.

Thanks again,


Thomas Norman at 10:35 on 15 September 2017  Report this post
Hello Nick,

As a first attempt at a love poem I think this is pretty near perfect. I do enjoy writing love poems and as James has said this is one of the best I have read.

You've already had a lot of very pertinent advice so I will keep this short.

The title I think should reflect the tapestry in some way; perhaps just, Tapestry?

Stanza 2. 'resurrection' sounds to me too much like death for a love poem and mars what is otherwise the most beautiful love words one could imagine.

I would most definitely reverse the order of S 3 and 4.
'Inarticulate' is a difficult one; not the right word at all but with syllables a-plenty a short phrase could serve.
'your shadow's shadow' I think you should simply drop that phrase. The line is fine without it. If you rewrote the first two lines using the blackbird as the focus (I didn't really like the crow; too raucous for a love poem) you could then blend them to the 3rd line.

I hope this is helpful. As it is a present for your dear wife you must make it absolutely perfect, nothing less will do for that dear person!


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