Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sonnet 116

(Sonnet CXVI)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnet 116 is probably one of the most famous Shakespearean sonnets. It is quoted by many literature teachers when they need to provide an example of structure and form, versification and rhyme. However, I want to discuss its meaning rather than the A-B-A-B rhyme and such. After all, I believe it is way more important to understand the content of a poem because even someone who can barely read would realize that ‘minds’ rhymes with ‘finds’ and such…

This sonnet was first published more than four centuries ago, back in 1609. Ever since, it has been quoted and analyzed by many, and most agree on the fact that the whole poem is a definition of true love. We all believe we can recognize true love when we experience it, but do we? The Bard arguments that true love is an ever lasting love, so if it fades, then it was probably something else (infatuation is not true love, and modern psychology would probably agree on that!).

Despite the difficulties, love should stand. Love should last all through the distance, and the time passing by, because it is constant and unchanging. True love is compared to marriage in a religious sense in at least two ways in the sonnet: first, the word ‘marriage’ itself appears on the first verse, although metaphorically meaning ‘union’; second, when Shakespeare writes “But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”, that is the equivalent of “till death do us part”.

How can something as deep and obscure as love be defined? The Bard achieves it (who else could?) thanks to well chosen comparisons, some of them proper of the time the sonnet was written. For example, take “It is the star to every wondering bark”, written way before GPS was invented, and sailors could only find their way home if they could follow the map of the stars, so this verse implies that true love provides a sense of hope even if you are going through a really rough time in your life…

True love is not based on looks, of course, and that is why Sonnet 116 establishes that “rosy lips and cheeks” don’t last in time, but true love does. I’m thinking about those old couples who have aged together and they are still crazy for each other!

Finally, the poem closes with a sort of paradox: if it is not the actual definition of true love, then no man has ever loved at all, and Shakespeare himself hasn’t written anything! Of course, since we are actually reading the sonnet, that can only mean Sonnet 116 is the real definition of love.

Sonnet CXVI

Sonnet 116

The original spelling version. The f = s -> ftar = star; u = v -> loue = love.

The Sonnets - volume one - William Shakespeare

Shall I Compare Thee? Choral Songs on Shakespeare Texts

-William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tristram Shandy Quotes

Harsh and untuneful are the notes of love,
Unless my Julia strikes the key,
Her hand alone can touch the part,
Whose dulcet movement charms the heart,
And governs all the man with sympathetick sway.


As the ancients agree, brother Toby, said my father, that there are two different and distinct kinds of love, according to the different parts which are affected by it — the Brain or Liver — I think when a man is in love, it behoves him a little to consider which of the two he is fallen into.

-Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1769)

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Loved You First - Christina Rossetti

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.

-Christina Rossetti

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sonnet 8

I live, I Die. I drown and I burn.
I shiver with cold and perish with heat.
I leap from anguish to delight; from sweet
To bitter. No two moments are the same.

Suddenly my laughter and my cries
Join in a single instant, each pleasure
Aches with a hidden torment, and the night
Fades, yet endures. I wither and I bloom.

So Love leads me on forever.
And when I think I know the limits of pain
Without knowing, I find myself at peace.

When I think my joy is lasting and I see
Some future hope, some present certainty,
He returns and brings back the past again.

-Louise Labé (1525-1565): Sonnet 8
(transl. Richard A. Branyon)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Romantic Music - Concierto de Aranjuez

The Concierto de Aranjuez is a composition by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. This second movement "Adagio" is performed by Paco de Lucía.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When Love Is Done

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies,
With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies,
When love is done.

-F. W. Bourdillon: Among the Flowers

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

William Blake Love Quote - Tell Thy Love

Never pain to tell thy love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

-William Blake: MS Note-Book

Monday, December 14, 2009

Philip Larkin - What Will Survive of Us

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

-Philip Larkin: An Arundel Tomb

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Adyashanti Quote - When True Love Arises

Have you noticed, with whatever quality of love you have experienced, that when true love arises, it opens up both your mind and emotions? It's an openness to whatever is happening.

-Adyashanti: Emptiness Dancing

Friday, December 11, 2009

Romantic Music - Endless Love

My first love,
You're every breath that I take
You're every step I make

-Luther Vandross / Mariah Carey: Endless Love

Love Quote - I Loved You Once

I loved thee once. I’ll love no more,
Thine be the grief, as is the blame;
Thou art not what thou wast before,
What reason I should be the same?

-Sir Robert Aytoun (1570-1638)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Falling in Love

Falling in love often presents us with the opportunity of experiencing a deeper reality. Feeling that someone was fated to come into one’s life, having a sense that
someone is a soul mate, appeals to a level of reality not referred to by our
ongoing concerns with practical matters. It suggests that there is some meaning
in life that is not created by us, but is there to be found. Falling in love
also gives many people a sense that such powerful feelings have trans-human
origins, that somehow the divine is connected with the love they feel.

-Bonnelle Lewis Strickling: Dreaming about the Divine (2007)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thomas Campion Quote - The Seasons

The Summer hath his joys,
And Winter his delights.
Through Love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

-Thomas Campion (1567-1620): Now Winter Nights Enlarge

Twilight Love Quotes

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him — and I didn't know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

My head was spinning at the rapid change in direction our conversation had taken. From the cheerful topic of my impending demise, we were suddenly declaring ourselves. He waited, and even though I looked down to study our hands between us, I knew his golden eyes were on me. "You already know how I feel, of course," I finally said. "I'm here… which, roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you." I frowned. "I'm an idiot."

"You are an idiot," he agreed with a laugh. Our eyes met, and I laughed, too. We laughed together at the idiocy and sheer impossibility of such a moment.

"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…" he murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.

"Isn't it supposed to be like this?" He smiled. "The glory of first love, and all that. It's incredible, isn't it, the difference between reading about something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?"

His gold eyes grew very soft. "You said you loved me."
"You knew that already," I reminded him, ducking my head.
"It was nice to hear, just the same."
I hid my face against his shoulder.
"I love you," I whispered.
"You are my life now," he answered simply.
There was nothing more to say for the moment. He rocked us back and forth as the room grew lighter.

"I love you," he said. "It's a poor excuse for what I'm doing, but it's still true."
It was the first time he'd said he loved me — in so many words. He might not realize it, but I certainly did.
"Now, please try to behave yourself," he continued, and he bent to softly brush his lips against mine.
I held properly still. Then I sighed.

I stopped on the porch and took hold of his face in my hands. I looked fiercely into his eyes.
"I love you," I said in a low, intense voice. "I will always love you, no matter what happens now."
"Nothing is going to happen to you, Bella," he said just as fiercely.

"Edward." I tried to tell him, but my voice was so heavy and slow. I couldn't understand myself.
"Bella, you're going to be fine. Can you hear me, Bella? I love you."

He sighed without returning my gaze. "It was impossible… to stop," he whispered. "Impossible. But I did." He looked up finally, with half a smile.
"I must love you."

-Stephenie Meyer: Twilight

Edward Cullen (The Twilight Saga: New Moon) - Life-Size Standup Poster

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Romantic Music - Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy, I've come home
I'm so cold, let me in your window

I'm coming back love , cruel Heathcliff
My one dream, my only master...

Kate Bush wrote this song when she was 18 years old. Hayley Westenra sings this beautifully also.

This is the scene of the novel Wuthering Heights (by Emily Brontë) where the chorus of the song is from (chapter III):

This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten.
‘I must stop it, nevertheless!’ I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!
The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed,
‘Let me in—let me in!’
‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.
‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton)—‘I’m come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!’
As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’ and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear.
‘How can I!’ I said at length. ‘Let me go, if you want me to let you in!’
The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer.
I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on!
‘Begone!’ I shouted. ‘I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.’
‘It is twenty years,’ mourned the voice: ‘twenty years. I’ve been a waif for twenty years!’
Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward.
I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright.
To my confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I sat shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself.
At last, he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, ‘Is any one here?’
I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew Heathcliff’s accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels. I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced.

Matthew Arnold Quote - Love, let us be true to one another

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

-Matthew Arnold: from Dover Beach (1867)

Monday, December 7, 2009

What's Romance?

And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it's always daisy-time.

-D.H. Lawrence: Studies in Classic American Literature (1924)

Romantic Music - Don McLean, Crying

Don McLean's version of Roy Orbison original song Crying. It went to #1 in UK charts (summer of 1980).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Erich Fromm Quote - Love is Union

LOVE IS UNION with somebody, or something, outside oneself, under
the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one's own
self. It is an experience of sharing, of communing, which permits
the full unfolding of one's own inner activity.

-Erich Fromm

Romantic Music - Chopin Nocturne

Chopin Nocturne Op.9 No.2

Quotes on Love - Love Is a Feeling and a Code

Language is the medium of expression of new semantic forms which enable intimacy to be communicated. Love is perhaps a feeling, but more than this, it is one to be communicated – or expressed. The complexity of love discourse these days becomes the basis of the renewal of the expressions of love.

Society is forced to develop new, more subtle codes of love. But even a code of love presupposes that love is something originating in the separation of the lovers. And
this, no doubt, is the big difference between a contemporary experience of love and love in the past.

-from John Lechte: Key Contemporary Concepts

Love Quotes Romantic - These Foolish Things Remind Me of You

A cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces,
An airline ticket to romantic places;
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things
Remind me of You.

-Holt Marvell: These Foolish Things Remind Me of You (1935 song)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Balzac Quotes - Honoré de Balzac on Love

Love has its own instinct. It knows how to find the road to the heart just as the weakest insect moves towards its flower by an irresistible will which fears nothing. Honoré de Balzac: La Femme de trente ans (1832)

To love without hope, to be disgusted with life, constitute, in these days, a social position. Ferragus

I love him for his own sake, the dear cherub. For four years his home has been in my heart. Cousin Betty

Women believe in men when they flavor their speeches with the word love. Colonel Chabert

Those in love either doubt nothing or doubt everything. 

To love without hope is still happiness. 

If light is the first love of life, is not love a light to the heart? 

Love is the gold, hatred the iron of the mine of feeling that lies buried in us. 

Love and vengeance, hunting together, will always strike down their prey.

Love is to the moral nature exactly what the sun is to the earth. 

Love is the only passion that cares not about the past or the future.

Love Quotes Romantic - Voltaire on Love

There are so many kinds of love, that in order to define it, we scarcely know which to direct our attention to. Some boldly apply the name of “love” to a caprice of a few days, a connection without attachment, passion without affection, the affectations of cicisbeism, a cold usage, a romantic fancy, a taste speedily followed by a distaste. They apply the name to a thousand chimeras.

If you wish to form an idea of love, look at the sparrows in your garden; behold your doves; contemplate the bull when introduced to the heifer; look at that powerful and spirited horse which two of your grooms are conducting to the mare that quietly awaits him, and is evidently pleased at his approach; observe the flashing of his eyes, notice the strength and loudness of his neighings, the boundings, the curvetings, the ears erect, the mouth opening with convulsive gaspings, the distended nostrils, the breath of fire, the raised and waving mane, and the impetuous movement with which he rushes towards the object which nature has destined for him; do not, however, be jealous of his happiness; but reflect on the advantages of the human species; they afford ample compensation in love for all those which nature has conferred on mere animals—strength, beauty, lightness, and rapidity.

As men have been endowed with the talent of perfecting whatever nature has bestowed upon them, they have accordingly perfected the gift of love. Cleanliness, personal attention, and regard to health render the frame more sensitive, and consequently increase its capacity of gratification. All the other amiable and valuable sentiments enter afterwards into that of love, like the metals which amalgamate with gold; friendship and esteem readily fly to its support; and talents both of body and of mind are new and strengthening bonds.

-Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary

Friday, December 4, 2009

Love Quotes Romantic - The Death of the Heart

A romantic man often feels more uplifted with two women than with one: his love seems to hit the ideal mark somewhere between two different faces.

-Elizabeth Bowen

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Quotes Romantic - Baudelaire Fusées

Love seeks to escape from itself, to mingle itself with its victim, as a victor nation with the vanquished - and yet at the same time to retain the privileges of a conqueror.

-Charles Baudelaire

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Love Quotes Romantic - Le Morte D'Arthur

The joy of love is too short, and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth over long.
The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.
For as well as I have loved thee, mine heart will not serve me to see thee, for through thee and me is the flower of kings and knights destroyed.
And much more am I sorrier for my good knights' loss than for the loss of my fair queen; for queens I might have enough, but such a fellowship of good knights shall never be together in no company.

-Thomas Malory

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quote from George Birmingham, Hyacinth

He had read a few novels, and he knew that even the writers whose chief business it is to glorify the passion of love do not dare to represent it as independent of money.

-George Birmingham

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Love Quotes Romantic - Kiss of Welcome

There is a kiss of welcome and of parting; the long, lingering, loving, present one; the stolen or mutual one; the kiss of love, of joy, and of sorrow; the seal of promise and receipt of fulfillment. It is strange, therefore, that a woman is invincible whose armory consists of kisses, smiles, sighs and tears?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Love Quotes Romantic - Love and Friendship - 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 the 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 may still leave thy garland green.

-Emily Brontë

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love Quotes Romantic - Camilla

"The cure of a romantic first flame is a better surety to subsequent discretion, than all the exhortations of all the fathers, and mothers, and guardians, and maiden aunts in the universe."

"No man is in love when he marries. He may have loved before; I have even heard he has
sometimes loved after: but at the time never. There is something in the formalities of the matrimonial preparations that drive away all the little cupidons."

-Fanny Burney (Mme d’Arblay): Camilla (1796)

Love Quotes Romantic - Wuthering Heights

If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees - My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: - a source of little visible delight, but necessary.

-Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights (1847)