When I finally got around to downloading the Audible app onto my new phone this morning, it occurred to me that I may well have been the only person in Armitageworld who hadn’t heard Richard Armitage reading Classic Love Poems, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I listened to the recording on my morning commute. Romance, passion, lust, obsession. The stuff love poetry is made of.
Then came a splash of cold water. I Corinthians 13: 4-8. I have heard this verse trotted out at dozens of Christian weddings over the years and it never fails to leave me a bit chilly. I find it kind of odd here in that it really is not poetry in any way – nor is it particularly romantic…or passionate. I suppose the issue I’m struggling with is the context. I Corinthians is St. Paul’s (Saul of Tarsus as was) first letter to the nascent Christian church at Corinth, Greece, and it is decidedly didactic in tone. In the previous twelve books, Paul provides detailed instruction as to how the church at Corinth, a tiny Christian island in a sea of polytheistic pagans, should go about their Christian business. For instance…in a preceding chapter that made me bristle during Sunday service a few weeks ago, Paul instructs on what to do about “idol meat”
And so on and so on. It’s all pretty unromantic if you ask me.
Now, for romantic biblical LOVE poetry, one needs to look no further than the Song of Solomon. Flocks of goat and sheep similes aside, the Song of Songs (as the book is also known) is full of all the passion and romance that is typical of the most swoonworthy love poetry…just take a look at the opening verse:
Biblical love poetry is some pretty potent stuff, but I also have a favorite non biblical ancient verse that seems to suit my current mood…
Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
…Catullus – Carmen 85
Ah, the ebb and flow of love. For better or worse, it definitely keeps me on my toes! 🙂