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i recently bought this book, first loves, where poets discuss the poems that made them fall in love with the written word. and that got me thinking. what exactly was the first poem that made me start loving poetry so much?

i’ve been having an affair with books and music for as long as i can remember. my parents instilled in me and my sister the love for books and music early on. my memories as a child were always of reading one book or another, practicing piano, watching classic movies and such. family computer games or sports were really never part of my childhood. my father even discouraged games which didn’t stimuate our brains one way or the other. the first novel i read was Anne of Green Gables. my favorite album was that of the broadway play Les Miserables, which i would play over and over again. i remember watching Romeo and Juliet, the one starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, and telling my uncle that they did the graveyard scene all wrong. he told me to prove it and i did so he bought me pizza. hahaha. needless to say i was a weird child.

looking back, i can’t seem to pinpoint what the first poem was that made me fall in love with poetry. i remember loving some of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. but somehow loving these poems were a given. the first time i read a poem that gave me chills was actually in a Sweet Valley University book. in the story, i think Elizabeth, who had just broken up with her then-boyfriend Todd, was attending a poetry reading where she read this poem by Lord Byron. (sorry if i’m getting the facts wrong. kasi naman ang tagal na nito plus i don’t have the SVU books anymore.) mind you, when i read this i’ve never really been in-love yet. love for me was still very much a mysterious emotion. and yet, when i read this poem i empathized with it immediately. from words on a page it went straight to my heart. it didn’t even take any effort for me to memorize it.

reading it again now, i relate to it differently. because now, i’ve actually felt the feeling of loss that the poem portrays. and that makes me love it all the more.

When We Two Parted
George Gordon, Lord Byron

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow–
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shrudder comes o’er me–
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee so well–
Long, long I shall rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met–
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?–
With silence and tears.