Love

This week’s theme leaves me spoilt for choice – is there any subject that has inspired more poems, novels, lyrics or plays than love?

I did consider writing about Plato’s Symposium in which a group of ancient Athenians discuss love, with Socrates expounding on what became known as Platonic love. The symposium attendees are all male but, interestingly, Plato makes Socrates credit a female oracle, Diotima for instructing him in the nature of love (which she does in an amusingly patronising way https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diotima_of_Mantinea )

The Symposium is also where Aristophanes explains love as a result at the gods punishing the previously two headed and eight limbed humans by dividing us into two – and condemning us to forever search for our missing “split-apart.”

But you don’t want philosophy (The Symposium is here if you do: http://faculty.sgc.edu/rkelley/SYMPOSIUM.pdf)  You want  poetry. Go on, admit it.

There are far too many love poems for me to even attempt a summation, so I am going to pluck one, more or less at random. I came across this one by Emily Bronte, which has the advantage of being seasonal with the championing of holly over rose wreaths as symbols of the more enduring virtues of friendship as compared to the more fugitive transports of romantic love.

I must confess that I am not a huge fan of the Bronte sisters.  This may be prejudice based on Charlotte’s disdain for Jane Austen – I freely confess to being card carrying Janeite – but also both Charlotte and Emily seem to me a bit over-blown and melodramatic with lashings of the gothic that Austen parodied so well in Northanger Abbey.  Perhaps because of this, although I knew that Emily had a considerable reputation as a poet, I had not read any of her poetry before.

But I really liked this poem. It has a touch of Victorian morality but it doesn’t slip into sentimentality or censoriousness and I think it is reminiscent of Christina Rossetti (at her simplest and clearest).

Ironically, Jane Austen also wrote something called Love and Friendship. It is a juvenile story (with little relationship to the recent film which is based on another of Austen’s early works, Lady Susan).

Austen’s Love and Friendship was written before she learned to curb her wicked sense of humour and craft credible stories. It concerns two young women who hurtle around the country from Wales to Scotland reacting to various Gothic catastrophes and ridiculous coincidences by either “running mad” or fainting. Eventually Sophia swoons to her death, prompting  her ,on her deathbed, to offer the sage advice:

“Beware of fainting-fits… Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable, yet believe me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution… My fate will teach you this… I die a Martyr to my greif for the loss of Augustus… One fatal swoon has cost me my Life… Beware of swoons, Dear Laura… A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences — Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint –-” https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/lovfrnd3.html

You can see why the Bronte sisters weren’t big fans!

Love and Friendship

BY EMILY BRONTË

Love is like the wild rose-briar,

Friendship like the holly-tree—

The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms

But which will bloom most constantly?

The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,

Its summer blossoms scent the air;

Yet wait till winter comes again

And who will call the wild-briar fair?

Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now

And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,

That when December blights thy brow

He still may leave thy garland green.

Prompts:  Such a broad topic gives plenty of scope but remember, with Emily Bronte that it doesn’t have to be about romantic love, it might be about family, friends, a love of a place or community or even your abiding love of fish and chips…  um, it’s been a long time since I have had good, chip shop fish and chips.

Spencer

4 thoughts on “Love

  1. From Urszula:

    Love

    According to the Beatles song
    ‘All you need is love’ but
    You have to be lucky to experience love

    I was waiting at a bus stop at the bottom of the hill
    When a car stopped and offered me a lift
    Was that when Cupid’s arrow was first fired
    At us and started this process called love.

    It took a while to develop day by day
    Car lifts walks concerts visits
    We met often as
    We were students on the same course

    Off we went on holidays no luxury for us
    Camping in the cold hills of Wales
    Then a summer break letters and phone calls
    Visiting each other’s homes hundred of miles apart

    Gradually we realized that we were close
    It was getting painful to go back home
    Then taking up work again far apart
    More letters phone calls and visits

    We finally decided the time had come
    Confront family members and announce
    That we were going to live as one
    We got married in the Polish church
    On a cold foggy winter’s day

    There were many practical things to do
    Finding a new job and accommodation too
    Eventually we started our new life in the January
    Of nineteen seventy year

    Love continued
    Life went on and
    We changed job and house again
    Moving further north
    Love gave birth to a child

    There was now an additional love
    A familial parental love
    The three of us enjoyed
    Many long happy holidays

    There was also a familial love of
    Our own parents and siblings

    Finally we retired and were on our own again
    And decided to leave the urban life
    We moved to the Outer Hebrides the Western Isles
    We enjoyed the simple life and
    Walks by the sea and sunsets

    Then Parkinson’s came and took our happiness away
    The love stayed
    Parkinson’s could not take that away
    But now I am on my own
    Building a new life
    Building friendships with a different love

    The world’s main monotheistic religions
    Promulgate love of humanity and God

    ‘Love is the light that guideth in darkness,
    The living link that uniteth God with man,
    That assureth the progress
    Of every illumined soul.’
    Abdu’l -Baha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOVE
    By Mairi Cable.

    In the summer of 1976, I had just graduated from Aberdeen College of Education and was about to start teaching in Calderhead High School Shotts. But before the summer holidays were happening the Royal Navy had come to Stornoway Airport. One weekend evening at the start of the summer I was out socialising with friends when I met a sailor, our eyes met over the Lewis Lounge Bar. But we did not make a connection then as I went to the Y.M.C.A. dance with a friend who wanted to see the band in the Y.M.C.A. After the dance was over we went to the Acres dance where I met up with Paul again. I was smitten and we had a romance over the long hot summer of 1976 before he returned to Portsmouth. I then had to go to Wishaw eo start teaching in Shotts. We had romantic correspondence and when I returned to Wishaw in January after the Christmas holidays, he came up to see me. We spent a day at Loch Lomond which was lovely. We also went for a meal in a posh hotel, the name I can’t remember. We had grilled grapefruit, steak with all the trimmings and fruit sorbet. He then returned down south. We continued our correspondence till the end of the school year when he came to see me again. This time he took me to the Isle of Arran where we spent a day or two touring the island. On our return we stayed in a Bed & Breakfast for the night Unfortunately after that jaunt the letters stopped and my experience of falling in love was over.

    Like

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