What is love, what is sex? asks Darren

Dear Darren

When I was your age the last thing I wanted was someone older than me trying to tell me about sex, so am surprised by the veiled enquiry in your letter just received. Once, many years ago, I was asked about sex and love by a young American lady named Cindy - the question was posed in front of her parents, I hasten to add! "How would I or anyone know?" I responded. "It just is". But then , whilst driving back across the desert to Riyadh from Al Khobar I thought more deeply about it. Several headline answers came to mind and I turned them into a short poem that evening. This was it ...



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,”
He** said, “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 than for love, to die and rot?

“I love (whatever,)” some car windows say
Thus take that truth of brightest human light
De-value it and make it all 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 reach we 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

*Christopher Marlowe
** President Kennedy


And whilst we're on the subject, Darren, this is another one - a verse (one of thirty or so) from my 1992 narrative poem A Walk Downtown. The narrator is a played out man of violence going home drunk along the banks of the Liffey, expecting retribution with every step ... the whole poem is included in my anthology of short stories 'Twenty Bites'

What purpose has that urge that blots all other things,
And drains the mind of all except a certain she?
That has you risk your life to find that old glory,
Grows, some fresh pink rose in thorny secrecy
To prick you, have you bleed no matter what you give?
This agony, it moves from just a thing of glands?
‘Forsaking all others’? But a rose that’s not your own,
Is a fire by which the cold and lost may warm their hands?
Questions like your shadow leap ahead across the way.
The answers swirling in chaotic shades of grey.

As you can see Darren, there's many more questions than answers, even looking back across some 70 odd years of sex and love, in that order. But keep seeking and ye shall find.

Love (yes!)

Socrates

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