I hoped that he would love me,
And he has kissed my mouth,
But I am like a stricken bird
That cannot reach the south.
For though I know he loves me,
To-night my heart is sad;
His kiss was not so wonderful
As all the dreams I had.
“The Kiss” is a romantic poem written in 1917 by Sara Teasdale (see here) who would win the first Columbia Poetry Prize in 1918, a prize later renamed the “Pulitzer Prize for poetry.”
It suggests that the fantasy of a kiss, above all the first kiss, with someone is not always as magical as one imagines it would be.
The speaker, a girl, hoping to be loved by the man of her desires, has dreamt a lot of her magical first kiss with him .
But, after kissing him, she sadly realizes that her much anticipated kiss was not so amazing as she wished: the long waited expectation has been sweeter than its realization.
In “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1820) John Keats had already expressed the same idea, a century before:
“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard/ Are sweeter”
The power of our imagination is often greater than reality: imagining something can bring great happiness while something real can be disappointing.
Speravo che mi amasse,
e lui la mia bocca ha baciato,
ma io sono come un uccello ferito
che non riesce a raggiungere il sud.
Perché pur sapendo che mi ama,
stanotte il mio cuore è rattristato;
il suo bacio non era meraviglioso
come io l’avevo sognato.
Image: Gustav Klimt – The Kiss (detail) – 1907-1908