I would not insult you, dear readers, by suggesting you read Henry Miller. I will assume that you have all read Miller’s collected works to various lovers throughout your life. Here are options for the next phase.
1. Tartuffe, Molière.
This would be best if you wish to participate in the reading while also lying in a natural state of chic, disheveled repose, which is quite French of you, you vixen. Read it in the original French or try the English translation by Richard Wilbur. I cannot at all comment on the quality of the translation and am recommending this based on a personal reading and my shameless awe of Richard Wilbur.
“Your loveliness I had no sooner seen/ Than you became my soul’s unrivalled queen;/ Before your seraph glance, divinely sweet/ My heart’s defenses crumbled in defeat/ And nothing fasting, prayer, or tears might do/ Could stay my spirit from adoring you.” – Tartuffe (that rapscallion) to Elmire
2. Stag’s Leap, Sharon Olds.
This book is highly recommended for former lovers who have come together for a (re)union. Olds wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning book after her divorce and it is honest, kind, and sensual. This is a book I return to at the close of every relationship, no matter how brief. It it powerful, this one. Use it wisely.
“…and then, in a sweep, calf shin knee thigh pelvis/ waist, and I run my irises/ over his feathered chest, and on his neck/ the scar, dollhouse saucer of tarnish/ set in time’s throat, and up to the nape and then/ dive again, as the swallows fly/ at speed – cliff and barn and bank/ and tree – at twilight, just over the surface/ of sloping terrain. He is alive, he breathes,/ and moves! My body may never learn/ not to yearn for that one…” – from “Not Going to Him”
3. Rapture, Carol Ann Duffy.
The collection reads as one extended love poem and, I promise you, every poem will resonate with you in some way. From her discussion of how a lover’s name takes on a charmed quality to her thoughts on the loneliness between those intimate moments, Duffy will woo you.
“Thorns on my breasts, rain in my mouth, loam on my bare feet, rough/ bark grazing my back, I moaned for them all. You stood, waist deep,/ in a stream, pulling me in, so I swam. You were the water, the wind/
in the branches, wringing their hands, the heavy, wet perfume of soil./ I am there now, lost in the forest, dwarfed by the giant trees. Find me.” – from “Forest”
4. Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino.
Calvino writes the way that I wish I could paint. Take turns reading a favourite city to your lover. Find a natural rhythm. And find natural rests between readings to wrestle…with the language, of course.
“Now I have only to hear the neighing of horses and the cracking of whips and I am seized with amorous trepidation: in Hypatia you have to go to the stables and riding rings to see beautiful women who mount the saddles, thighs naked, greaves on their calves, and as soon as a young foreigner approaches, they fling him on the piles of hay or sawdust and press their firm nipples against him.
And when my spirit wants no more stimulus or nourishment save music, I know it is to be sought in the cemeteries: the musicians hide in the tombs; from grave to grave flute trills, harp chords answer one another.” – from Part III, Cities and Signs #4
5. Persuasion, Jane Austen.
Austen’s last and her most sorrowful novel. Anne and Frederick meet, fall in love, and then Anne is persuaded out of her love by her snobbish relatives. Then they meet again, eight years later. Best read in serialized form over many months as you encounter and come to know your lover.
“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”
6. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman.
This is probably best read while camping with your lover. Hike yourselves to near exhaustion, swim naked in a stream, fill your tent with the softest of blankets, and sing your bodies electric, dear readers.
“I sing the body electric,/ The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,/ They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,/ And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?/ And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?/ And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
The love of the body of man or woman balks account,/ the body itself balks account,/ That of the male is perfect, and that of the female of perfect.” – from “I Sing the Body Electric”