Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the Art/ifice of Love

A picture may well be worth a thousand words, but I'd honestly just have the thousand words instead. I am not sure, for example, if any picture could do what this poem does.

(P.S Since we don't do Valentine's consider this my pre-Valentine offering)

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart;
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

-- Andrew Marvell

This was featured on John Stammers's top 10 love poems in the Guardian.

Stammers writes of the poem -
A romantic take on Horace's Carpe Diem in which the suitor desires to seize rather more than simply the day. This poem contains many of the cleverest metaphysical conceits: witness "our vegetable love" or those trying worms.

Life's dark. And challenging. And often either mundane or impenetrable. But love, ah love. Think about it. Wouldn't you rather have a playful, lilting, fleetfooted love than a simpering, sinking, serious one?
Business School

And that people, is your television fix recommendation for the year. Go watch "The Wire".