love is in the air

Just for you: A perfect evocation of love in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. ♥️

“Les Amoureux” by Marc Chagall (1928).
by William Jay Smith

Now touch the air softly, step gently, one, two …
I’ll love you ’til roses are robin’s egg blue;
I’ll love you ’til gravel is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange, and lavender’s red.

Now touch the air softly, swing gently the broom.
I’ll love you ’til windows are all of a room;
And the table is laid, And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes on bottomless air.

I’ll love you ’til heaven rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away in a glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down like a river below,
And earth is ablaze, and oceans aglow.

So touch the air softly, and swing the broom high.
We will dust the grey mountains, and sweep the blue sky:
And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plough,
As however is ever, and ever is now.

~ from The Girl in Glass: Love Poems (Books & Co., 2002)


“Lovers with Daisies,” by Marc Chagall (1949-59).

I was totally enchanted by every word of this lyrical gem, which is alternately titled “A Pavane for the Nursery.” Something about, ‘step gently, one, two’ struck me as an ingenuous invitation to delight.

This poem has been set to music by several composers, is a popular choral piece, and is often sung or recited at weddings.

A former U.S. Poet Laureate, William Jay Smith once said, “Great poetry must have its own distinctive music; it must resound with the music of the human psyche,” and this poem certainly bears that out.

Smith favored traditional poetic styles to free verse, hence his use of a rhymed metrical-stanzaic structure here. His pronouncements are charming as well as disarming despite the formal style. Who can resist “the moon rows away in a glass-bottomed boat,” or “we will dust the grey mountains and sweep the blue sky”?

“La Promenade,” by Marc Chagall (1918).

Brooms are symbols of good luck, as they can be used to “sweep away” evil spirits or bad fortune. According to an old Welsh custom, newlyweds should enter their new home by stepping over a broom so luck will follow them. Similarly, if a bride and groom jump over a broom during their marriage ceremony, good luck and fortune will flourish in their union.

Upon reading this poem, I thought immediately of Marc Chagall. After all, he’s considered “the ultimate painter of love.” He masterfully captured the euphoria of love with his levitating lovers, who blissfully float on air, defying gravity, soaring beyond earthly realms as one. 

“Bride and Groom of the Eiffel Tower,” by Marc Chagall (1938-39).

His wife Bella was not only the love of his life, but the muse who inspired his best work. He said, “Is it not true that painting and color are inspired by love? In art, as in life, all is possible when conceived in love.”

I thought Chagall’s flying lovers a good match for Smith’s poem, for it is the life-sustaining purity of air that blesses those united in love, enfolding them in their own universe.

“Birthday” by Marc Chagall (1924).

After listening to several renditions of this poem put to music, I decided my favorite is by Minnesota folk musician Peter Mayer. His crisp, warm, fluid acoustic treatment is perfection.



The lovely and talented Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend and watch out for cupid’s arrows next week. 🙂

Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

37 thoughts on “love is in the air

  1. Thanks for wrapping me in the warmth of William Jay Smith’s gorgeous poem, Chagall’s paintings, and Peter Mayer’s lovely musical rendition, all while the sun gingerly seeped in under my shade to welcome the morn! Lovely especially “I’ll love you ’til roses are robin’s egg blue;” and “As however is ever, and ever is now.” And “Lovers with Daisies.” Happiest of Valentine’s Day Jama!!! 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Michelle. I like thinking of the sun gingerly seeping in under your shade this morning. 🙂 Sounds like the perfect time to appreciate Chagall and Smith’s poem. Happy V Day to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jama, your blog is an “ingenuous invitation to delight” every week! Thanks for the Valentine poem-art-music love. All charming & beautiful. I JUST bought, online, a copy of La Fontaine’s fables illustrated by Chagall. The art was made almost 100 years ago, and this edition was published by The New Press in the mid-90s. :0). Happy Heart Day to you, yours, and of course, Mr. C.!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I listened and then looked at the Chagall paintings again while it played. I don’t know the poem, Jama, so thank you for again sharing such heartfelt emotion. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Len, “’til roses are robin’s egg blue”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only just recently discovered that poem, which led me to hearing Peter Mayer for the first time. Thanks for looking and listening, Linda. 🙂 Have a sweet Valentine’s Day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So much to love about this post, Jama. Orion’s been out for our nightly walks with the dogs, so the line “And Orion steps down like a river below” made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jama: Regarding your comment about rutabagas and parsnips, you will find that rutabagas are sweeter and more mellow than parsnips. I barely tolerate parsnips, more I think for texture than flavor, but even the flavor is sharp for me. I think you would be pleasantly surprised at rutabagas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the info, Karen. Now I’m even more tempted to try rutabagas! Some parsnips can be a little sharp with too woody a texture, so maybe rutabagas would be a better choice. 🙂


  6. Just right for Valentine’s Day! I remember seeing a beautiful blue Chagall painting in the Chicago Institute of Art many years ago. It looks like William Jay Smith wrote poems for children, too, so I’m curious to read some of those poems. Thanks, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just looked up the blue Chagall art, and it’s actually a large stained glass piece called America Windows. They are 8 feet high and 30 feet across. I read this about them: “Artist Marc Chagall began working on his design for the windows in 1976, America’s bicentennial year, and constructed the windows as a tribute to the freedom of artistic expression enjoyed by the people of the United States. When designing the windows, he stated, ‘When one works, one must have a vision.’”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link. Just beautiful!! I’ve noted that Chagall used a lot of BLUES in his work, another reason he’s one of my fave artists. Enjoyed learning about his inspiration for the America Windows.


    1. I read My Life too and liked it! Time to reread. I remember the thrill of seeing my first Chagall painting in person years ago. Have been a big fan ever since.


  8. Love is literally in the air in Chagall’s paintings, isn’t it? I love his art & really enjoyed his My Life when I read it many years ago. Happy Valentine’s Day, Jama!


  9. Oh, I didn’t know this beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing it, and for adorning it with the incredible Chagall paintings, and topping it off so perfectly with Peter Mayer’s music. Swooning!

    Liked by 1 person

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