top of page

The Penguin Book of Love Poetry

A Poem by Kelsey Edwards

Tonight I can write the saddest lines; 

the sisters, two rural sisters, Damned 

Women. 

 

[after long silence] 

 

From pent-up, aching rivers to the quiet glades of Eden, 

 

from walking in a meadow green, inseparable, to ecstasy 

under the waterfall. Two lips cherry-ripe, two lips echo 

the kiss. My pretty rose tree, She came to me 

in a gondola, the sun rising under the willow-shades. It was 

like 

the 

touch 

of 

rain. 

The definition of love. 

 

Keep your eyes open when you kiss, she tells her love 

while half-asleep. I abide and abide and 

abide, until 

it may not always be so… 

A last confession; the imperfect 

enjoyment, the way man and wife 

remember. Drunk 

 

as drunk as turpentine. Come, live with me and be 

my love. Her reply: 

the night has a thousand eyes, quick 

and bitter. Talking in bed is the funeral, 

not the slice of wedding cake. First love- 

love without hope- is a thunderstorm 

in town. Damned women 

 

from modern love. 

 

The question- an argument- sick 

love- sudden light- the ruined maid- she gave 

the kiss- She did not- no use to remain. Seduced girl. 

Daybreak. 

 

[after long silence] 

 

I knew a woman in love 

when I was one-and-twenty. Dread, dead. 

Still, never such love is to remain. 

 

When we two parted, a thousand years an old flame, you said. 

Remember? Then two lips, cherry-ripe, a 

valediction. 

 

A pity. We were 

such a good invention. 

A Statement by Kelsey Edwards on her process

I found the 1976 edition of The Penguin Book of Love Poetry in a bookshop in Dorchester. It was meant to be a holiday read but now lives on my bedside table. I turn to it when procrastinating other work or to inspire my creativity. It isn’t the romance that keeps me going back, but the rawness of emotion. The poems differ in content and form- dedications, sonnets, lamentations, unrequited love- but are all united by sincere confession. My poem is a response to the emotions that I encountered and experienced within the anthology. I crafted it using only titles from the original text, trying to encapsulate the rawness that each poem explores whilst staying true to my own voice. The love, which happens to be queer,  is an exploration of my own experiences as well as how complex love (and life) can be.

bottom of page