Poet’s corner: Remembering Leonard Gibbs
Never Let Love Be All
Never let love be all, all the dreams fulfilled;
a life of constant joy will tire itself.
Moments of loving, heights of ecstasy
are islands in the ocean’s gentle swell.
Love’s no museum, filled with endless art,
the ancient masters that must not be touched.
The perfect picture, frozen in its frame
will fade, perfection will become a bore.
Only a fool will see his love as all,
all tender touches, never failing smiles,
all lust unending, lovely agony;
there must be rest between; a love must heal.
Then let the times for loving not be all,
but pray the times between the times be small.
— Leonard Gibbs
This month’s Poet’s Corner is dedicated to Leonard Gibbs, founder of the original Poet’s Corner Column several years ago. Leonard died on February 1st at his home in Panton. The numerous poems he’s written over the years cover many forms from sonnets to free verse and others in between. They are filled with images and subjects from various aspects of his life — the Georgia mountains of his childhood, Vermont’s landscape and wildlife, and the bigger subjects of God and the universe. I met Leonard only once, but got a strong sense of his enthusiasm for life — for art and music, for his family and their Panton farm, for life in Vermont. And most certainly, for poetry.
While reading through Leonard’s poems in recent weeks, I came across “Never Let Love Be All.” The title intrigued me, and I became curious to know what this poet had to say. The poem is a sonnet, a form he loved, and in it he reminds us love is not about perfection or about measuring up to an ideal, or expecting others to.
“Moments of loving, heights of ecstasy/are islands in the ocean’s gentle swell,” he writes. And even as he writes “there must be rest between; a love must heal,” it seems those in between times are love too, of a different kind — a movement away from the island’s ecstasy into the “ocean’s gentle swell.” I think of the great cosmic ocean of love that we all float in, the one that holds all our particular loves together and which can refill us, if we let it, every time we enter in. Leonard skillfully and beautifully wove these worlds together for us, and so much more. Our community is richer for that, and blessed.
(This poem was chosen in 2008 as a finalist in the American Public Radio sonnet competition, and was read by Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion.)
Susan Jefts is a poet and educator living near Middlebury, Vermont, whose work has been published throughout the state and country, most recently in the Vermont Anthology, Birchsong, Volume II. She is currently finalizing a book of poetry and offers workshops using poetry to explore various life themes. For more info, contact her at [email protected]. Her website is manyriverslifeguidance.com.
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