Monday, March 28, 2011

"Had we but world enough, and time"

I met a man yesterday who once loved someone I know, a long time ago. Who he or she is is unimportant. I had never met him before, the love was functionally before my time. By luck, by chance, we met, however, and talked, and he told me some of the story of how he had loved someone I knew. There may have been the word heartbreak used in the telling.
And I could see it in his eyes, some 20 odd years later.
I wonder, now, what it must be like, to be reminded, some 20 odd years later, of a lost love by a chance meeting. What happens, in the mind, for the rest of that day? The rest of that week?
I recounted this story to someone this evening, and the response was to read me a series of poem that touched on the theme of time, and love lost.
I present for you here, Gentle Reader, those poems, both by Edna St. Vincent Millay:


TIME, that renews the tissues of this frame,
That built the child and hardened the soft bone,
Taught him to wail, to blink, to walk alone,
Stare, question, wonder, give the world a name,
Forget the watery darkness whence he came,
Attends no less the boy to manhood grown,
Brings him new raiment, strips him of his own;
All skins are shed at length, remorse, even shame.

Such hope is mine, if this indeed be true,
I dread no more the first white in my hair,
Or even age itself, the easy shoe,
The cane, the wrinkled hands, the special chair:
Time, doing this to me, may alter too
My sorrow, into something I can bear.

Sonnet 02: Time Does Not Bring Relief; You All Have Lied

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide

There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!

And so, having been presented with both these poems by my interlocutor, I wonder, of my meeting yesterday, how does he respond to the memory of his lost love? Does time heal, of have we been lied to?

Of course, I presume, in my romantic haze, that he will think on love lost for the rest of the day, or week. Perhaps he is not the type to do so. Maybe his heart was not a badly broken as I imagine. Perhaps the look in his eyes while relating me the bare bones of the story was "a fragment of an underdone potato" or some such.

Perhaps, Gentle Reader. Perhaps. But I am now richer by two poems, read to me in a voice I long to hear always, a gift. A voice, incidentally, that, in 20 some odd years from now, if absence, will likely inspire my telling the sort of story I heard yesterday.

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