In 1914, Guillaume Apollinaire met Lou. He soon fell in love with her. For the French poet, that incipient love would serve as a refuge during the war. In his Letters to Lou, Guillaume, or Gui, that burly soldier, gives himself entirely to her, even as the horrors of his daily struggle could have monopolised his spirit, or crushed it altogether.
"We are at war
Cares no more"
he writes in one of his verse letters.
Here lies the subject of our latest theme: love that isolates us from the world, makes us forget it; love that needs nothing beyond itself, reducing all things to the essence of a loved one; love that, as John Donne writes in another poem of this series, condenses the universe of two lovers to the single bed they share, "all here in one bed lay".
And what joy it is to grow, to learn, to flourish in one another, away from a tumultuous, violent world. As long as isolation does not morph into misanthropy, that is.
London, 25 October 2014
Our selection of poems, music and images for the five weeks of this theme is available by clicking on the tabs above or through the links below: