Valentine’s Day Poems #3

February 7, 2019

Pete Roche: Somewhere on the Way

I wanted to say a lot of things:
I wanted to say how often lately
Your bright image has wandered through
The dusty old antique shop of my mind;
I wanted to say how good it is
To wake up in the morning
Knowing that the day contains
Something that is you.

I wanted to say a lot of things:
I wanted to talk about
The changing colour of moments,
The silent secret language
Of bodies making love.
I wanted to say that you
Are always only as far from me
As thoughts are from thinking.

I wanted to say
I love you
In fourteen foreign languages
But most of all (most
Difficult of all) in English.

I wanted to say a lot of things,
But they all seem to have lost themselves
Somewhere on the way; and now I’m here
There’s nothing I can say except
Hello, and –
Yes, I’d like some coffee, and
What shall we find to talk about
Before the night burns out?

It’s not a brilliant poem, but over the years, especially in my younger days, it spoke to me. It’s about fancying someone and finding the courage to break the ice, and say something meaningful that will move the contact along, into a relationship, perhaps; not everyone will have experienced this problem, but if you have, you will recognise it…

Here is someone who sees the object of his interest regularly ‘the day contains | Something that is you’; he (?) ‘wanted to say’ – notice how many times this phrase is repeated, as if he’s been so many times on the verge of opening his mouth to speak and then lost courage: each stanza begins with those words. Does he feel too boring for her? ‘your bright image’ is contrasted with his ‘dusty old’ mind. Glad to see her every day, he is unable to get any further.

His mind isn’t dusty and old: he imagines ‘The changing colour of moments’, and this image suggests there is something interesting about him, which would make a good opening. And of course, he is thinking about sex, although again his words suggest that there is more to him than just getting her into bed: ‘The silent secret language | Of bodies making lovehints at rather more feeling or consideration, I think.

The short stanza about all the foreign languages is a youthful romantic idea, and he is clued up enough to know that English would be the hardest, as it’s their language and the distance of a foreign language would be taken away: he would be taking a big step.

I wanted to say a lot of things’ suggests over-thinking and a lack of spontaneity, or an inability to take a risk, which is what the situation requires of him. In the final stanza he’s clearly with her again, and tongue-tied again; the pause suggests she’s said something to him – what? – something encouraging perhaps, the old chestnut of being invited in for coffee hinting that she is perhaps open to his being a bit more forward? And will he find the words?

It’s a rather sad poem, yet agonisingly true to life for some people. What the poet has succeeded in doing here, I think, is articulating that scenario clearly enough to make a reader pause and take in its full significance, and that’s enough.


4 Responses to “Valentine’s Day Poems #3”

  1. cooperatoby Says:

    Stef,Do you know Pushkin’s ‘Ya Vas Lyubil’?T

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jessica Says:

    I first read this poem in the 90’s, in a tiny blue velvet book of poetry. I lost the book but I’ve never forgotten this poem and I have look for it for years! Thank you for bringing it back to life!


    • litgaz Says:

      I used it in a unit of love poetry at school for many years. I think the students understood the idea of the difficulty of breaking the ice with someone you really fancied…


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