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Winter Thoughts of Ann Rutledge

Ann Rutledge was apparently Abraham Lincoln’s first love interest. Unfortunately, she was engaged to another man when they met, then died with typhoid fever at age 22. According to a friend, Isaac Cogdal, when asked if he had loved her, Lincoln replied: “It is true―true indeed, I did. I loved the woman dearly and soundly: She was a handsome girl―would have made a good, loving wife … I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often, often of her now.”

Winter Thoughts of Ann Rutledge
by Michael R. Burch

Winter was not easy,
nor would the spring return.
I knew you by your absence,
as men are wont to burn
with strange indwelling fire―
such longings you inspire!

But winter was not easy,
nor would the sun relent
from sculpting ****** images
and how could I repent?
I left quaint offerings in the snow,
more maiden than I care to know.



Ann Rutledge’s Irregular Quilt
by Michael R. Burch

based on “Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

I.
Her fingers “plied the needle” with “unusual swiftness and art”
till Abe knelt down beside her: then her demoralized heart
set Eros’s dart a-quiver; thus a crazy quilt emerged:
strange stitches all a-kilter, all patterns lost. (Her host
kept her vicarious laughter barely submerged.)

II.
Years later she’d show off the quilt with its uncertain stitches
as evidence love undermines men’s plans and unevens women’s strictures
(and a plethora of scriptures.)

III.
But O the sacred tenderness Ann’s reckless stitch contains
and all the world’s felicities: rich cloth, for love’s fine gains,
for sweethearts’ tremulous fingers and their bright, uncertain vows
and all love’s blithe, erratic hopes (like now’s).

IV.
Years later on a pilgrimage, by tenderness obsessed,
Dale Carnegie, drawn to her grave, found weeds in her place of rest
and mowed them back, revealing the spot of Lincoln’s joy and grief
(and his hope and his disbelief).

V.
Yes, such is the tenderness of love, and such are its disappointments.
Love is a book of rhapsodic poems. Love is an grab bag of ointments.
Love is the finger poised, the smile, the Question ― perhaps ― and the Answer?

Love is the pain of betrayal, the two left feet of the dancer.

VI.
There were ladies of ill repute in his past. Or so he thought. Was it true?
And yet he loved them, Ann (sweet Ann!), as tenderly as he loved you.

Keywords/Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Ann Rutledge, history, president, love, lover, mistress, paramour, romance, romantic, quilt, Dale Carnegie
alexis Aug 5
love is, perhaps, the cruelest mistress.
5. août 2020
16:07 pm
Sarah Crispin Jun 10
What is a moth if not a butterfly
who's traded in her grace and colour
for pitter-patter sighs
Inked nights
To sift shy in shadows
And forever thirst for light
Soft Laughs in Dim lit taverns
Almost winked out flames
She's the tattered mistress of stars
forgotten partaker
Of a lesser praise
Valentin Jun 6
and she calls out his name
only her echo resonates between the cliffs

the whistling wind blows from all directions
at this moment the violent sea is agitated
the waves break on the cliffs

these cliffs again these cliffs
death is downstairs

she is out of breath now
for him

he is also out of breath but in
different circumstances
he is with his mistress

in the wooden house with the warm fire
when the rain hits the island
and the thunder is out of control
06.06.20
Les Bijoux (“The Jewels”)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My lover **** and knowing my heart's whims
Wore nothing more than a few bright-flashing gems;
Her art was saving men despite their sins—
She ruled like harem girls crowned with diadems!

She danced for me with a gay but mocking air,
My world of stone and metal sparking bright;
I discovered in her the rapture of everything fair—
Nay, an excess of joy where the spirit and flesh unite!

Naked she lay and offered herself to me,
Parting her legs and smiling receptively,
As gentle and yet profound as the rising sea—
Till her surging tide encountered my cliff, abruptly.

A tigress tamed, her eyes met mine, intent ...
Intent on lust, content to purr and please!
Her breath, both languid and lascivious, lent
An odd charm to her metamorphoses.

Her limbs, her *****, her abdomen, her thighs,
Oiled alabaster, sinuous as a swan,
Writhed pale before my calm clairvoyant eyes;
Like clustered grapes her ******* and belly shone.

Skilled in more spells than evil imps can muster,
To break the peace which had possessed my heart,
She flashed her crystal rocks’ hypnotic luster
Till my quietude was shattered, blown apart.

Her waist awrithe, her ******* enormously
Out-******, and yet ... and yet, somehow, still coy ...
As if stout haunches of Antiope
Had been grafted to a boy ...

The room grew dark, the lamp had flickered out,
Till firelight, alone, lit each glowing stud;
Each time the fire sighed, as if in doubt,
It steeped her pale, rouged flesh in pools of blood.

Keywords/Tags: Baudelaire, translation, French, jewels, gems, lover, ****, stone, metal, spirit, flesh, body, naked, ****, legs, cleft, groin, tigress, animal passion, lust, *****, thighs, hips, *******, belly, blood
Le Balcon (“The Balcony”)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your ******* by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings—
how soft your *******, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods ...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bright bouquet of  your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!

Keywords/Tags: Baudelaire, translation, French, balcony, paramour, memory, mistress, desire, caresses, fire, coals, rose, *******, night, breath, feet, lap, body, heart, vows, perfumes, kisses, gulf, suns, heaven, light, seas
Hymn to Aphrodite
by Sappho
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Immortal Aphrodite, throned in splendor!
Wile-weaving daughter of Zeus, enchantress, and beguiler!
I implore you, dread mistress, discipline me no longer
with love's anguish!

But come to me once again in kindness,
heeding my prayers as you have done before;
O, come Divine One, descend once again from
heaven's golden dominions!

Your chariot yoked to love's consecrated doves,
their multitudinous pinions aflutter,
you once came gliding from the utmost heights, to
the dark-bosomed earth.

Swiftly they came and vanished, leaving you,
O my Goddess, smiling, your face eternally beautiful,
asking me what unfathomable longing compelled me
to cry out.

Asking me what I sought in my hopeless, bewildered desire.
Asking, "Who has harmed you, why are you so alarmed,
my poor Sappho? Whom should
Persuasion summon here?"

"Though today she flees love, soon she will pursue you;
spurning love's gifts, soon she shall return them;
tomorrow she will woo you,
however unwillingly!"

Come to me now, most Holy Aphrodite!
Release me from my heavy heartache and anguish;
grant me all I request, be once again
my ally and protector!

"Hymn to Aphrodite" is the only poem by Sappho of ****** to survive in its entirety. The poem survived intact because it was quoted in full by Dionysus, a Roman orator, in his "On Literary Composition," published around 30 B.C. A number of Sappho's poems mention or are addressed to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. It is believed that Sappho may have belonged to a cult that worshiped Aphrodite with songs and poetry. If so, "Hymn to Aphrodite" may have been composed for performance within the cult. We do know that Sappho was held in very high regard. For instance, when Sappho visited Syracuse the residents were so honored they erected a statue to commemorate the occasion! During Sappho's lifetime, coins of ****** were minted with her image. Furthermore, Sappho was called "the Tenth Muse" and the other nine were goddesses. Keywords/Tags: Sapphic, Sappho, ******, translation, ancient Greek, hymn, Aphrodite, Zeus, daughter, immortal, goddess, holy, lady, heaven, enchantress, enchantment, love potion, charm, spell, persuasion, beguiler, beguilement, mistress, discipline, *******, prayer, prayers, chariot, heaven, descent, ally, protector, lust, desire, passion, longing, ***, crush, girlfriend, women, grief
Nigdaw Jan 7
I was in love with love
immersed in a melancholy desire
for the affections of someone
who never existed I now realise
beyond my own stupid head

wrapped in imagination
tied with bows of fantasy
a present I could never open

anticipation
always more magical
than the actual event

this love was of my own creation
impossible for reality to measure up to
she's still up there somewhere
I visit when I can
in quiet moments of contemplation
the mistress of my brain
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