Treasure Island

Michael Shepherd

(8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! ! Love's Grammar Book

I love you.

That's it, really.
all there is to say.
sums it up.
in a nutshell.
the long and the short of it.
the be-all and the end-all.
I know what I mean;
you know what I mean.
more or less.
we know what I mean.
most of the time.

But though love's sometimes
best defined by silence
it may be good
to say a few good words

since you, and love, have taught me
love's grammar-book:

I love 'love'.
though love as noun is difficult to define.

I love love as an adjective:
love's.. just lovely, isn't it?

But most of all
I love love as verb.
and this I know:
this my love's active voice:

I love. (you) .
I loved you. How well I remember.
I have loved you. I'm so grateful for that.
I shall love you. That I promise.
and when all is done, I'll be proud to remember that
I shall have loved you;
and that
we shall have loved.

And in love's passive voice,
I'm so blessed that
I am loved;
rejoice in the hope that
I shall be loved
and promise that
you shall be loved.
I'll always be blessed that
I have been loved.
and that I can say
you shall have been loved (forever) .

Then there are love's moods
as they're called in grammar:
the indicative - I love you; do you love me?
the exciting imperative mood:
'Love me, do - I promise I'll be true...' or better,
'Love me! Now! ';
the subjunctive mood
which is rather subtler in other languages:
'Don't leave me, please';
'May we love each other till we die...';
'If only you were to love me
as much as I love you..'

And then, those other parts of speech
that few of us get around to sorting out
but all lurking there under 'amo'
in the Latin grammar-book of love:

The perfect infinitive:
'It is better - to have loved - and lost - than
not -to have loved -at all';

that great feeling
called future infinitive:
to be about to love;
and that dizzy future infinitive passive:
to be about to be loved;

the gerund:
'Oh the loving and the kissing
and the kissing and the loving...';

that cautious supine:
'in order to love...';

the passive imperative -
the parents' wish (with qualifications) :
'let her be loved'...

and that loaded gerundive:
'fit to be loved'...

All of which, I hope, leaves you
in that state curiously undefined
by grammar -
a sort of active gerundive:
'fit to love' - to love
love's grammar-book
in full

for love conquers all, it's said,

even a hatred of grammar.

Submitted: Sunday, February 20, 2005
Edited: Friday, February 08, 2008

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Comments about this poem (! ! Love's Grammar Book by Michael Shepherd )

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  • Ghada Shahbender (5/10/2005 3:37:00 PM)

    But this is how grammar should be taught! Loved your poem, love it, loving it and will love it on my list of favorite (most loved) poems (Report) Reply

  • Ivy Christou (4/4/2005 8:38:00 AM)

    now there is a definition of love that should be included in a proper dictionary!
    All the love for the love-ly poem!
    HBH (Report) Reply

  • Lenchen Elf (2/20/2005 12:42:00 PM)

    A delight to read and revealing my sorry secondary modern education for what it was: -) (Report) Reply

  • Rusty Daily (2/20/2005 8:55:00 AM)

    I don't know what the love you just said, but I just ejoyed the love out of it. You are loving incredible.

    Rusty (Report) Reply

  • Rich Hanson (2/20/2005 7:46:00 AM)

    what a witty an erudite approach to defining 'love.' An excellent read. Left we wishing there was more. (Report) Reply

  • Sue J Ashdown (2/20/2005 7:29:00 AM)

    Oh how well you put it. All those little things that are so difficult to define, when trying to explain what love is, what it does and how it feels.
    Michael, I love this poem. It sends tingles down my spine.

    Best wishes,
    Sue. (Report) Reply

  • Christine Magee (2/20/2005 6:40:00 AM)

    I'm in awe! I've read it twice as well and have no doubt I'll read it once more before my next cup of coffee...a high compliment!
    Chrissie (Report) Reply

  • Herbert Nehrlich1 (2/20/2005 6:18:00 AM)

    Michael, this is so perfect, I read it several times. Amo amas amat....and the wonderfully exciting subjonctif.....only the French have mastered that.
    And if love's passive voice is found wanting we can go over to Allan Saywell's solution of writing love letters to ourselves.
    H (Report) Reply

Read all 13 comments » Updates

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