Monday, December 12, 2011
ASPECTS OF ROMANTIC LOVE
The Dedication page of our book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love,
Courage, and Devotion
has two quotations that describe almost contradictory aspects of romantic love:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
–Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
All that we love deeply becomes part of us.
Gibran would have us let each other go free. Keller knows that having deeply loved, we are changed and cannot be wholly free.
John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” assures us that even when separated, we are connected, our love stretches. Toward the middle of his poem, Donne likens the connection between separated lovers’ souls to “gold to airy thinness beat.” The thin gold foil may expand and attenuate, but it does not break. He ends with the metaphor of a circle-drawing compass, with its moving foot representing the lover who must travel away, while the central “fixed foot” always leans and “hearkens after it.” The poem ends,
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
Sometimes, Gibran's “hand of life” is controlled by Keller's love that has become “part of us.” Or does fate control? This song became appropriate for us twenty years after parting, when Tina and I married:
You were meant for me.
And I was meant for you.
You’re like a plaintive melody
That never, ever, never, ever let me free,
And I’m content
The angels must have sent you
And they meant you
Just for me.
[written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown].
We say, we sometimes believe, that we were “fated to be mated.”
The last poem in this brief treatise was called to my attention by Bonnie, a young woman I dated shortly after losing Tina. For my last hundred days in the U.S. Army, she gave me a desk calendar with a quotation, written in her elegant penmanship, for each day. One I never forgot ran:
Much that I sought, I could not find.
Much that I found, I could not bind.
Much that I bound, I could not free.
Much that I freed, returned to me.
—Lee Wilson Dodd
Bonnie and I freed each other; neither returned. Tina and I freed each other; both returned.
Poets are not infallible.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a freelance writer, a writing coach, a retired physicist. His book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, was published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO) and is available through Amazon [amazon.com], Barnes and Noble [bn.com], or http://tingandi.com .