The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Love is a Journey – and Poems Capture Every Facet of the Adventure

Love is a Journey – and Poems Capture Every Facet of the Adventure

Where does it come from? Is it a euphoric concoction of chemicals like dopamine, adrenaline, and oxytocin? Perhaps it forms naturally between two, like-minded people over time? In its truest form, many believe it to be self-sacrificial, enduring, and unconditionally present – something that changes the world. There are many types of love, but it is not always easy to know where one ends and the other begins. That is because, as you grow older, you may find that this powerful force (strong enough to ignite wars, as history tells us) is not neatly compartmentalised into defined boxes, and that is because it is more of a journey. What better way, then, to express this thrilling voyage through life than by the honesty that poems afford?

The Adoration Between Family Members

We have heard the tales of superhuman strength allowing mothers to lift vehicles while rescuing their children, and many of us know parents who would, quite literally, do anything to protect their young. This instinctive pledge to keep one’s child safe could be mere biological instinct, but it is as though the bond between family members (especially parents and child) forms an unbreakable tether. Of course, not all families know love such as this, but for those who do, poems are a lovely way of expressing how deep the cord runs. In her poem, “Sonnets are Full of Love”, Christina Rossetti pays tribute to her mother, who is honoured as the writer’s loadstar.

Reverence for Inspiring Figures

Die-hard fanatics of celebrities, sports stars, or even politicians might not define their adoration as “love”, but swoons at the sight of said personality imply a strong devotion. This kind of enthusiasm towards a reverential figure may not really be rooted in reality, but it remains thrilling and enjoyable all the same. Many people feel appreciative of larger-than-life figures that inspire them, and so write poems in praise of such persons to express their perceived connection. This is nothing new, of course, as there is no shortage of poems throughout history in tribute to great leaders and heroes.

The Delights of Flighty Infatuation

Think about love poems and “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare springs to mind, with its famed opening line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”. Things have not changed much since Shakespeare’s pining poems in the late 1500s, and artists, musicians, and authors alike continue to grapple with the intensity and passion of infatuation. Those fresh and fierce emotions are not just reserved for high school sweethearts, either, as just about anyone can express their affection this way.

When Love Becomes a Verb

While infatuation certainly beguiles, these warm and fuzzy feelings often fizzle out after some time. What remains is a partnership or friendship that can no longer rely on chemistry to sail smoothly – love becomes a daily choice. An action or verb. Poets throughout history have aptly captured the real work it takes to maintain a doting relationship, and the deep pain of losing this treasure.

Many people know Langston Hughes as an author and social activist, but he too understands the ferocity of love. In his poem, “Love Song for Lucinda”, Hughes describes the word as a high mountain in the last stanza, and that if one does not plan on losing their breath, they ought not to “climb too high”. To the poet, loving hard means walking a fine line between magical enchantment and the danger of getting hurt.

Appreciation of the Self

Self-care has gained traction over the last few years, often conjuring images of some tired soul visiting a day spa or sipping a glass of wine. It goes deeper, however, as society has often ingrained the notion that we are never good enough into our identities. Poetry, on the other hand, makes appreciating oneself unashamedly possible. Local and international writers, such as James Baldwin, Keorapetse William Kgositsile, Maya Angelou, Mzwakhe Mbuli, and Ingrid Jonker have brought about social change through their empowered words.

For minority groups and those who have found themselves oppressed by systemic and social injustices, being represented by prominent writers who embrace themselves enough to stand up for what is right is incredibly powerful. In this way, self-love, regardless of one’s culture, race, gender, language, or creed, is beautifully conveyed through poetry.

Whether you wish to write about the furry animal companions you hold dear, your faith, or a special someone you cherish, love poems are a superb way to do it.

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