We’ve been using poetry to tell each other (and the world) about our love from ancient times. Some poems transcend time and cultures more than others, morphing as they travel: the ‘Chaurapanchâsika’, or ‘The Love Thief’ is a classic example.
This passionate 11th-century Sanskrit 50-stanza lament tells the story of a Brahman sentenced to death for loving a Maharaja's daughter. It’s based on the Kashmiri poet Kavi Bilhana's own experience: he wrote the work in prison in praise and recollection of his lost love.
Though the original no longer survives, the verse survived and continues to be popular today as a significant example of medieval Indian poetry. Both oral and written copies helped to perpetuate the poem’s success – versions that appeared in North India ended with the narrator facing execution, while those produced in South India had happier endings where the couple eventually marry.