What love is

This one's for you two. You know who you are - same as who you were those twentyfive years ago this very day.

And it's for all those this coming Valentine's Day who have wondered about love, who know they feel it but but don't know what 'it' is. Which must surely be most of us ...

A Question of Love

“I want to know what love it,” starts the song
and then goes on, “I want you to tell me,”
but the answer may in history only be;
with just the question's echo left so some
feel cold the vacuum when replies don’t come.

“Come live with me and be my love,” he wrote
went on; “And we shall all the pleasures prove:”
four hundred years ago that poet's love
he saw reflected in his lovers eyes
and truth, pure love now with the poet lies.

But there are many kinds of love; “Ask not,”
said one, “What my country does for me, just
ask, my country, that I love, what I must
do for thee?” Golden words that burn so hot -
what greater love than for love, die and rot?

“I love (whatever,)” some car windows say
thus take that truth of brightest human light
de-value it and make it be so trite:
less truth, less love can we the pain defray
of nothing at the dying of the day?

And He so loved the world...” It tells of blood,
the Book; and of the life that’s here on earth
it’s only we who’re blessed to know from birth
the joy the strength of love so fine and good,
thus reaching out to touch the face of God.

“I want to know what love is,” still you ask:
and yes, it could be all that you can feel
or need to feel or all of life that’s real
or nought for you or once just now and gone
or yours to have and hold from this day on.


Bryan Islip
November 96

By way of background: I had become friedly with an American businessman and his wife who lived on a very nice compound within Saudi Arabia's Al-Khobar, (yes, same city as featured in my novel). One weekend I was invited to stay and we got to chatting, as you do. They talked of their much loved only daughter, Cindy, then an officer in the U.S.Navy. I believe Cindy must have had some kind of a set-back in her love-life because, her mother told me, she had come home and, after an angst-filled silence had asked, somewhat forlornly; "Mom, Daddy; what is love?"

A difficult question, not to ask but to answer. I drove back to Riyadh that evening and by the time I'd reached my hotel I had the outline of some kind of an anecdotal answer. That's it, above.

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