Lovesong by Ted Hughes

Watching my father take my mother’s tantrums in stride. Watching him drink all of her delusions in, knowing when to keep quiet and when to turn arguments into comic relief. She is one of the most difficult people on earth to like; to love her takes gargantuan effort. I wonder how he can do this.

Lovesong
Ted Hughes

He loved her and she loved him
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Off that moment’s brink and into nothing
Or everlasting or whatever there was
Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His words were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin’s attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
Her glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-trick were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap.

4 Comments

  1. Hey, this is NOT the poem in its entirety. Someone cut it off! The full poem goes like this:

    He loved her and she loved him.
    His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
    He had no other appetite
    She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
    She wanted him complete inside her
    Safe and sure forever and ever
    Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

    Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
    Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
    He gripped her hard so that life
    Should not drag her from that moment
    He wanted all future to cease
    He wanted to topple with his arms round her
    Off that moment’s brink and into nothing
    Or everlasting or whatever there was

    Her embrace was an immense press
    To print him into her bones
    His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
    Where the real world would never come
    Her smiles were spider bites
    So he would lie still till she felt hungry
    His words were occupying armies
    Her laughs were an assassin’s attempts
    His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
    His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
    His whispers were whips and jackboots
    Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
    His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
    Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
    And their deep cries crawled over the floors
    Like an animal dragging a great trap
    His promises were the surgeon’s gag
    Her promises took the top off his skull
    She would get a brooch made of it
    His vows pulled out all her sinews
    He showed her how to make a love-knot
    Her vows put his eyes in formalin
    At the back of her secret drawer
    Their screams stuck in the wall

    Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
    Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop

    In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
    In their dreams their brains took each other hostage

    In the morning they wore each other’s face

    Like

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