Miserable Love Poetry

Thomas Hardy’s second wife, Florence, wrote in a letter: He is this afternoon writing a poem with great spirit: always a sign of well being with him. Needless to say, it is an intensely dismal poem.

I spent many years of my life writing almost exclusively in a genre called miserable love poetry, until I realised – at the age of about 55 – that this juvenilia was no good. I still have a certain fondness for the genre though…

I have written enough about love

And said nothing at all.

The dancing, the drinking, the weddings

Meant nothing at all.

There were moments, of course, there were

Moments when life was a ball,

But I’ve written enough about love

To know that was all.

And now, wrapped up warm, wearing gloves

In the old peoples’ hall

We chuckle at youngsters today-

How they rise! How they fall!

We shrink in the past and the present

Means nothing at all.

But the past is no good; it’s the place

Where the old voices call:

You have written too much about love

And said nothing at all.


In those days we wrote letters.

One night I wrote

I’m in love with you

And signed my name

And sealed it, then

Wondered whether to send it.

These days we have email, text,

Which are quick and sort of free,

So better.

Neither do we have to observe the niceties

Of beginning ‘Dear You’

And writing ‘Love Me’ to end it.


It seemed important then and doesn’t now

It’s autumn and the leaves are on the ground

And you dread the coming darkness and the cold

The time it takes to reach another spring.

     The wasps are angry and they sting

     The foxes stare and grow more bold

     Jackdaws fright the air with sound

     The knife you threw just missed, so now

We are still talking, though you’re in tears,

And to each other, not to the police

Or to the doctor in emergency.

Jesus, you know how to have a row.

     The black cat jumps the wall and bows

     His next trick is to walk upon the sea

     And after that he’ll bring world peace

     Yes, cats have all the gears.

We must beat our weapons into ploughs

What seems important now, just isn’t now.


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