Celebrating Lesbian Love
The romance of poetry.
Rossetti, frontispiece for Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’
If you're of a literary bent, there's nothing much more romantic than a helping of love poetry to go with the wine and cosy fire, or sunset walk down the beach. Poetry dates back to Sappho as a way of celebrating the love - and desire - between women. Many couples read to each other, why not share a volume of poetry? Here are a few classic poems to get you started:
The first from Sappho, of course, the celebrated Greek poet from around 630 BCE -
…she’s not here, and I’d rather see her lovely
step, her sparkling glance and her face than gaze on
all the troops in Lydia in their chariots and
Emily Dickenson (1830-1886) wrote a great many passionate letters and poems to a female friend. Here's one from her:
Wild Nights - Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Futile - the Winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden -
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor - Tonight -
Amy Lowe is, of course, famous as a lesbian poet of early twentieth century. Here's a taste of her honeyed words:
As I would free the white almond from the green husk
So I would strip your trappings off,
And fingering the smooth and polished kernel
I should see that in my hands glittered a gem beyond counting.
When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.
Back in time again to the seventeenth century, and Aphra Behn is famous, not only for being a spy, but for her unashamedly erotic poetry, a great deal of it celebrating relations between women.
From: A Voyage to the Isle of Love
All trembling in my arms Aminta lay, Defending of the bliss I strove to take; Raising my rapture by her kind delay, Her force so charming was and weak. The soft resistance did betray the grant, While I pressed on the heaven of my desires; Her rising breasts with nimbler motions pant; Her dying eyes assume new fires. Now to the height of languishment she grows, And still her looks new charms put on; - Now the last mystery of Love she knows, We sigh, and kiss: I waked, and all was done.
`Twas but a dream, yet by my heart I knew, Which still was panting, part of it was true: Oh how I strove the rest to have believed; Ashamed and angry to be undeceived!
Lesbian love poetry is not just a habit of the past, however. Women are still immortalizing their love in poetry, and there are many wonderful volumes to be found in bookshops right now.