The Kiss

(after Gustav Klimt’s painting)

On the bed, he holds her neck,
her hand all the while on his,
the golden fabric of tryst.
There are flowers in her hair
& he has not kissed her mouth
just yet.

He leans over her, clearly wants her.
She is his, maybe.
Sitting in the chair opposite,
you only see a peacock raiment
& the eyes that look back at you
in flowers, whorls.

They are one body.
You cannot tell him from her
but it does not matter now.
Her eyes are shut & he is still
kissing her. They are like flowers.
Inseparable. The bed is a garden.


The subject of dreams is a rich one. There is a vast catalogue of popular songs (“All I Have to Do Is Dream”, “Dream Baby”, et al) and poems (“Kubla Khan”, “Ode to a Nightingale” et al) that deal with various aspects of dream. Painters, too–Colville and the pre-Raphaelites, for instance– have explored dream-like states and fancies. Gustav Klimt’s work is largely dream made manifest, no moreso than, perhaps, “The Kiss”.

In stanza 2, I took the liberty of blending some other Klimt images into this particular scene, but with Klimt ‘it all runs together’, his dreamy scenes and dreamy people. There is, at last, a oneness, a confluence, and unity to his desires and obsessions¬†(stanza 3). In many ways, Leonard Cohen’s beautiful poem “You Have the Lovers”–his best on love–is a poetic realization of Klimt’s vision. If one is looking for ultimate visual art and poetry examples of the love dream, these two works will always be key reference points and centres.

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