THE ANCIENT Greeks, famously, had a word for everything. Not quite so true in the 21st century — they’d struggle with ‘flux capacitor’ and ‘high-speed fibre broadband’.

But they were closely attentive to the world around them and good at describing complex or subtle emotional experiences. So, for instance, there are three Greek words that can mean the same as our English ‘love’: Philos, eros, and agape (a-ga-pay).

Eros means romantic and sexual attraction, and from it we derive our word ‘erotic’. Philos is about liking and enthusiasm; we still use it in words that mean we’re passionately interested in something, like ‘bibliophile’ for a person who collects and hoards books. Agape is more religious: love of God, in whichever form you choose to worship; for fellow believers and fellow humans.

They didn’t know the half of it. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

The November meeting of the Airedale Writers’ Circle looked at love poems and love songs, and by the end of the evening we’d explored just a few of love’s many facets. Easy to begin: with the ‘I wanna hold your hand’ sort, the boy (or girl) meets and woos girl (or boy).

So we looked at Andrew Marvell’s famous ‘To his coy mistress’, in which the poet is desperately trying to convince a reluctant young lady to go out with him: ‘Had we but World enough and Time, this coyness Lady were no crime.’ We won’t always be young and beautiful, he says, so lets gather rosebuds while we may.

But then think of Edward Lear’s ‘The owl and the pussycat’: ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat, they took some honey, and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five-pound note.’

Though theirs is a romance, it’s one in which opposites attract because of long friendship and trust. Sad to say, the poet himself was a shy and solitary man with chronic health problems, and never came to know in person the affection that he describes so tenderly.

And there’s the weathered and deep-rooted love of a life-long relationship. After his wife died the curmudgeonly Welsh poet R S Thomas wrote:’ She was young; I kissed with my eyes closed and opened them on her wrinkles.’

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. We touched on love of mother for her children, and of children for parents. And on love’s disappointment, in the words of country singer Carrie Underwood: ‘The more boys I meet, the more I love my dog.’

Kathleen Raine wrapped it up in the biggest coat of all in ‘Amo Ergo Sum’: ‘Because I love The sun pours out its rays of living gold. . .’

That is, as the old saying has it: love makes the world go round. ‘All you need is love.’ John Lennon. Smart man.