Love is apart from all things.
Desire and excitement are nothing beside it.
It is not the body that finds love.
What leads us there is the body.
What is not love provokes it.
What is not love quenches it.
Love lays hold of everything we know.
The passions which are called love
also change everything to a newness
at first. Passion is clearly the path
but does not bring us to love.
It opens the castle of our spirit
so that we might find the love which is
a mystery hidden there.
Love is one of many great fires.
Passion is a fire made of many woods,
each of which gives off its special odor
so we can know the many kinds
that are not love. Passion is the paper
and twigs that kindle the flames
but cannot sustain them. Desire perishes
because it tries to be love.
Love is eaten away by appetite.
Love does not last, but it is different
from the passions that do not last.
Love lasts by not lasting.
Isaiah said each man walks in his own fire
for his sins. Love allows us to walk
in the sweet music of our particular heart.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Jack Gilbert's poem The Great Fires


  1. MaryJane says:

    I think this poem is stupid i hate it with all my guts i hope who ever wrote this gets it and writes me back i wanna have a talk to u

  2. sara says:

    this is really a great poem. it really explains what i feel about love , its like everything i feel , just in words.

  3. Ana Valerious says:

    This poem was an excellent explanation of what love really is. I’ve been doing research on love poetry, and this particular poem is one of the best.

  4. Courtney Grable says:

    I loved this poem it was really meaningful. The last part of the poem about Isaiah totally made sense. I really loved it.

  5. Robert Baldoza says:

    The poem is great, even though its a little straightforward..I agree with the earlier comment about the last part, which somehow throws the poem a little to the side..but all in all it’s a heck of a good poem, I even gave a copy of it to my girlfriend.

  6. ryan bidegain says:

    i really love this poem, when i read it, the poem really spoke to me. i had to choose a poem to explicate for a speech class. this is the one i chose. i hope i can analyse it and find out what jack gilbert really was trying to say. i loved the poem. the only part that throws it off is the last part about isaiah. but i truly did love the poem.

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