These days, everything seems to be about lists. There are entire websites devoted to the ten or twenty or one hundred best kisses, buildings, literary humour, film sex scenes – you name it, someone somewhere has already been there and listed it! Recently I saw a list of the most romantic poems which of course should not have surprised me since poetry is by association usually romantic.
For some it might be Chaucer with:
“Her slender arms, her soft and supple back, / Her tapered sides – all fleshy smooth and white – / He stroked, and asked for favours at her neck, / Her snowish throat, her breasts so round and light; / Thus in this heaven he took his delight, / And smothered her with kisses upon kisses / Till gradually he came to learn where bliss is.”
For others it could be Barrett Browning with her lines;
“I love thee with a love I seemed to lose/With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,/Smiles, tears, of all my life!”
Female poets wrote with fierce abandon too, in case you think that only men like Chaucer did that; how about Emily Dickinson in the following?
“Wild nights! Wild nights!/Were I with thee,/Wild nights should be/Our luxury!”
But for sheer romantic words with the slow embers of passion just below the surface, I think Rabindranath Tagore is unbeatable for my money. Among the many poems which he wrote, this is one that is my favourite. It is called Nimantran or The Invitation.
If there is one poem that has been a constant in my life, since the age of ten or eleven to this day; it is this one. You can keep your Romeo and Juliet, or even Rhett’s speech…”I will make you faint. I want you to faint”….etc.
This is it for me. I hear it in Shambhu Mitra’s voice in the original as I read, even in English and can recite it with his intonation and pauses. This is the very first poem I translated when I found out I could. Translate, that is. I don’t think my effort could have been any more sincere.
This is the link to Mitra’s immaculate rendition: