How does love poetry celebrate the ordinary to bring out the extraordinary?
Love poetry represents how the extraordinary is always an extension of the ordinary. He praises the virtues of simple objects. They are never didactic or artificial. Love poetry shows that the world seems to be full of respect and beauty when you are in love. He tells us how love makes the world look through a new lens and fills them with enthusiasm for even the most insignificant things and the most mundane tasks.
Take for example “Having A Coke With You” by Frank O’Hara. The poet compares love and art and emphasizes that the former always plays the trump card. The simple fact of existing next to one’s lover is much more preferable “than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne”. The narrator’s lover makes mundane acts like wearing an orange shirt or loving yogurt remarkable. They believe life in all its mundanity becomes a transformative experience if pure romantic love is part of the equation. The narrator feels that the statues are still “unpleasantly definitive.” They contrast sharply with them and their lover being fluid and full of hope and potential. The narrator also speaks against famous portraits because the works of artists can never be a worthy substitute for their lover. Not all spectacular artwork fails to impress them as no other experience can be as remarkable as sharing a Coke with their lover.
Then there’s “The Orange” by Wendy Cope, which revolves around the narrator’s joy at having bought a “huge orange”. The narrator goes on to explain that lately a lot of ordinary things make them happy. The poem captures only trivial moments and what would conventionally be considered dull moments to show that when one is in love, even the most mundane tasks fill them with unbridled joy. Cope writes, “I did all the jobs on my list / And I enjoyed them and got some time.” The narrator stays awake to the love they feel. They are not overpowered by it, nor do they slip past it. Love allows them to make sense of the simplest things. Cope marries the usual, like having lunch and running errands, with the sublime – loving and being alive. In each line, Cope emphasizes that if one is in love, even when the partner is physically absent, daily tasks become enjoyable and celebratory.
In Jameson Fitzpatrick’s “Morning Scene,” “the table,” “the windows,” and “the cafe” are about grief. The narrator remembers the lost love, the love that drifted into purgatory, but which still left its remains on everyday objects. These objects prove that life is probably nothing more than getting used to loss. The banality of the scene in its demoralizing specificity asks rhetorically: “How many people can visit the past without hurting anything?” Grief is part of the quiet stillness of the scene depicted here. But it is also the reception of love. Her presence indicates that once the now estranged lovers had to find sanctuary in each other. Love must have been theirs once upon a time and the heartbreaking banality of the present only further accentuates the extraordinary they must have shared at some point.
Finally, “You” by Carol Ann Duffy shows how one hides in his “ordinary days, in the tall grass of routine” to escape the uncertainties of love. The narrator says that falling in love with someone is “glamorous hell”. They hide in “camouflage rooms” to escape the routine ailments associated with love – namely anxiety, fear, etc. However, there is relief at the end as the lover is seen “on the bed, like a gift, like a palpable dream”. The narrator does not make a show of their lover. They write on the bedroom door and curtains instead. Mundane objects extend a sort of dreamlike quality to the lover. Their extraordinaryness becomes more prominent due to the presence of the ordinaryness of the scene the narrator is zooming into.
Love poetry is a good reminder that even dreary days don’t feel oppressive in a lover’s arms. Love is the bribe that speaks of our days by being kind and warm. And more importantly, even when lovers become ordinary to each other, the love they once shared remains just as incredible.