Love’s Stratagems

But these maneuverings to avoid
The touching of hands,
These shifts to keep the eyes employed
On objects more or less neutral
(As honor, for time being, commands)
Will hardly prevent their downfall.

Stronger medicines are needed.
Already they find
None of their strategems have succeeded,
Nor would have, no,
Not had their eyes been stricken blind,
Hands cut off at the elbow.

– Donald Justice


I find this poem very compelling. You start reading it and get a sense of supressed emotion, which builds until you realise just how much emotion is being buried, and how futile these attempts at burying them are. The last two lines really make the poem for me – they circle back to where the poem started from almost as if to show you just how far we have travelled from there.

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