Saturday, February 14, 2015

today we are obliged to be romantic...

A few days after I met my woman-friend, I deleted my online dating profile. 

I had spent hours using every last bit of my literary and photoshop skill to present myself as an articulate, interesting dude with a truly compelling head of hair. I'd answered hundreds of questions. I'd tweaked. I'd twanged. But after I met her I deleted it all forever, just like that. 

How could I not?

Here was a woman whose multiple weirdnesses lined up fantastically well with my own. Frugal as the day is long, literate as the book-stacks are high, and kind as a hug is wide. A woman who taught herself to read like an adult at age four. Whose favorite book is a crawling Russian novel. Who speaks five languages. A woman who'll play Legos with my son for hours... and enjoy it.

And sexy? Hmmmmm.

[bites knuckles - proceeds]

The best thing about her though, on a day like today (Valentine's Day), is that she is utterly, ruthlessly un-romantic. She hates sentimentalism of any kind, loathes romantic comedies, and is zero percent interested in being plied with roses and romantic poetry (although she'll accept any such gestures in the spirit in which they were given).

She's not heartless... she just understands that "being in love" is about a succession of moments spent being loving, not a few fast-firing synapses in the brain. 

For today, then, I have decided to waste no energy on writing an original romantic poem in a vain attempt to manipulate her synapses into electrification. Instead I have cobbled together a poem from thirty different first lines of thirty of the most romantic poems in the English language. I figure this way I'll satisfy my urge to make mad, romantic gestures, while simultaneously meta-mocking the sameness and predictability of romanticism of all kinds. 

Enjoy: 


Today we are obliged to be romantic

If questioning would make us wise
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
At last, when all the summer shine

Sweet stream that winds through yonder glade,
O, hurry, where by water, among the trees
The fountains mingle with the river,
If ever two were one, then surely we.

I love thee as I love the calm
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Light, so low upon the earth
Since there’s not help, come let us kiss and part;

And in Life’s noisiest hour
We shall be notes in that great Symphony
Touched by all that love is
If ever two were one, then surely we.

There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
Love seeketh not itself to please
Come to me in my dreams, and then
I arise from dreams of thee.

All day long I have been working
When I have fears that I may cease to be.
Bid me to live, and I will live
If ever two were one, then surely we.

The wondrous moment of our meeting…
It was many and many a year ago
I ne’er was struck before that hour
Passing stranger! you do not know

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
A glimpse through an interstice caught,
If ever two were one, then surely we.

There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
If ever two were one, then surely we.

- - -

And the sources, for the curious:

If Questioning Would Make Us Wise, Christopher Brennan
To Lucasta: Going to the Wars, Richard Lovelace
i carry your heart, e.e. cummings
At Last, Elizabeth Akers Allen

To a Young Lady, William Cowper
The Ragged Wood, Wm Butler Yeats
Love's Philosophy, Percy Bysshe Shelley
To My Dear and Loving Husband, Anne Bradstreet

I Love Thee, Eliza Acton
Bright Star, John Keats
Marriage Morning, Lord Alfred Tennyson
Idea 61: Since there's no help, Come, let us kiss and part! Michael Drayton

The Presence of Love, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Panthea, Oscar Wilde
Confession, Frantisek Halas
To My Dear and Loving Husband, Anne Bradstreet

Sonnet IX, Pablo Neruda
The Clod and The Pebble, William Blake
Longing, Matthew Arnold
The Indian Serenade, Percy Bysshe Shelley

Madonna of the Evening Flowers, Amy Lowell
When I have fears that I may cease to be, John Keats
To Anthea, Who May Command Him Anything, Robert Herrick
To My Dear and Loving Husband, Anne Bradstreet

Wondrous Moment, Alexander Pushkin
Annabelle Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
First Love, John Clare
To a Stranger, Walt Whitman

Sonnet 44, Wm Shakespeare
Sonnet XIII, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A Glimpse, Walt Whitman
To My Dear and Loving Husband, Anne Bradstreet

Sonnet IX, Pablo Neruda
To My Dear and Loving Husband, Anne Bradstreet

2 comments:

  1. I am new to your blog, and I find this post to be particularly interesting and pretty adorable as well. I know exactly what you mean by deleting your profile - I, too, found my best friend through online dating and we've been together almost ten years. I do hope that your woman-friend had a chance to read this. The 'succession of moments' is a really touching sentence. And the poem! It's quite the crazy quilt of lines. The sources are very appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Hannah Jane. I appreciate your appreciation :-) And welcome to the blog! I've committed myself to posting something every day this year, but there's also a whole backlog of material you can explore through the side-bar. Enjoy! (and congrats on your stellar relationship)

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