All the Feels
Rupi Kaur’s incredible poetry book explores love in a subtle, yet heart-wrenching manner.
By Kaitlyn Peterson, University of California, Los Angeles
Rupi Kaur’s “Milk and Honey” is commonly considered the go-to poetry book for college students, having recently gained an exceedingly high status of trendiness.
In a society that has chosen social media and technology over reading hardcover books, Kaur’s book revives the art of poetry. Each work is carefully and beautifully crafted, forcing its way deep into the soul and discovering places in the heart that may not want to be revealed.
Everyone loves the idea of love, which serves as a common subject of the pieces in “Milk and Honey”; however, not everyone loves the idea of heartache and pain. The book defies emotional boundaries, as it is best read and understood during those sleepless nights at 3 a.m. when you’re left alone with your thoughts. Here are its seven best lines.
1. “like the sky
my beloved is everywhere
but next to me.”
Staring at the sky never ceases to make you feel something, whether those feelings take on the form of happiness, nostalgia or loneliness. Kaur juxtaposes all three together and brings an intricate mix of bliss and sadness. Amidst admiring the world and its beauty, one finds themselves alone, longing for love’s beauty instead.
The pure, childlike setting is corrupted with deep hopelessness from the loss of a loved one, representing the loss of one’s innocence due to heartbreak. The only present beings now are the sky and the lover, and yet, mankind has always found companionship with nature. Perhaps the clouds are just waiting for you to come back into their embrace, for you to lay down on the grass and gaze at the sky above you.
2. “I tremble at the thought of
falling in love with a
tiny part of someone
and mistaking it for the whole.”
“Milk and Honey” addresses one of the most common fears associated with love—giving your heart to someone who doesn’t deserve it. One smile can cause you to pour your whole life into someone, only to have them throw you away at the end.
Just a single heartbreak can bring hesitation and anxiety in someone’s heart when considering falling for someone new. It’s inevitable that you’ll shiver at the possibility of the worst, as the past haunts people in a way that nothing else can. At the center of vulnerability is fear, whether that’s fear of being alone or fear of being forgotten.
3. “I am tired.
not for a lack of rest –
no, I slept quite well last night,
and I’ve had my coffee.”
College students can always relate to being tired, considering that every night is a sleepless one because of academics or spontaneous adventures. Yet, Kaur describes an emotional restlessness; even while the physical aspect of someone appears to be okay, their inner soul suffers.
As the minutes pass by and the days go on, the mind seeks tranquility amidst chaos. The brain’s grey matter dissolves into a state of numbness that cannot be healed. No matter how much coffee you drink or how many hours you sleep, the mind ceases to breathe.
4. “you’ve touched me
Without a hand even touching yours, someone can make you feel like you have found where you belong. A person can become your rock, your happiness and your home. Contrasting with Kaur’s other melancholic pieces about heartache, this poem acknowledges the extraordinary bliss of being in love.
Amidst its ability to wound the deepest parts of someone, you can’t help but still be inspired and left in awe by the concept of love. One stranger can change your life with their words and their soul; the fact that two random people can become a beautiful masterpiece together is miraculous enough to be praised.
5. “I will never understand
why you held me
if you were afraid of warmth”
Tears fall as you’re in your room, reflecting on both a relationship’s beginning and end, and questioning what made the middle so bad. In order to love, you have to choose to be in love.
What does the decision look like? You choose when you open your hand in order for someone else to entangle their own into yours. You choose when you risk your heart and tell someone about the painful experiences you hide from others. You choose when you let yourself fall for another soul, even if you’re scared to death. One of the most tragic moments is when a person ceases to make the decision to be in love.
6. “there is nothing
more painful than
who’s still living”
Mourning isn’t just for those who have passed away. Perhaps one of the worst things is acknowledging the fact that a stranger now exists in place of an old friend or significant other.
You stare at their face, and no longer do those deep blue eyes make you feel safe or comforted anymore. You look at their hands, which are bigger than you remembered, and have since held people that you do not know. You seek to find their heart, which is now fully hidden away from yours. You are left alone to cherish the memory of who they once were and who they will never be again.
7. “our backs
no books have
the spine to carry”
Everyone has a story. There are scars on your body, wrinkles on your skin and bruises on your back. You have an identity that no one else shares and experiences that only exist within your own world. While authors can write as much as they want about other people’s lives, nothing compares to you writing about your own life.
Although sharing can be in the form of a quiet whisper, one can also scream and declare empowerment, strength and victory. Your past does not define you but rather makes up who you are in the present, serving as the backbone for the rest of your body. You have a story full of joys, disappointments, excitement and heartache. You have a story, so share it.