Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Love, the most beautiful of all luxuries
If you have love, and are loved, you have the ultimate luxury, happiness. And if you have happiness, you are rich. Nothing else matters, or is insignificant in comparison.
In the English language we are lucky to have a plethora of magical love poems from a vast array of writers. Far be it for Luxury Hedonist to present only one poem, but there is only one candidate for the first poem to be presented, and that is Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare, first published in 1609.
The poem starts like a rocket with the image of two minds in marriage. From the marriage on earth of two minds, he takes us on a voyage of the universe to illustrate his points of the durability of love. This true love is resistant to storms, and acts as a beacon from the sky, almost calling to lost lovers everywhere. Shakespeare’s love ‘alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out to the edge of doom’.
And then Shakespeare delivers the final blow as well as the final irony to prove his point. If his statements were erroneous and proved, he never wrote nor any man ever loved, but of course, by writing it, he proved his point. That is what I call true genius.
So where did Shakespeare write this poem? It must have been somewhere inspirational, effervescent, immovable, and divine. William Wordsworth later wrote that in his sonnets Shakespeare ‘unlocked his love’. He certainly seems to have done that here. Shakespeare appears to have written the sonnet in his most active period when he was writing his best tragedies at the turn of the 17th century. This makes sense because you can feel the intensity.
Shakespeare must have written the sonnet in the Grand Canyon in the United States of America. This is the only place I can think of that expresses the grandeur of the poem. Some love poems you know where they were written, and the English countryside is written into their fabric. Here it is not. It is a universal poem that transcends countries. It could almost have been written in space, although even Shakespeare didn’t have access to space at that time.
You can imagine Shakespeare writing furiously as he tested his words in the Grand Canyon’s caverns. As he shouted into the caves, the words would come back in echo…..ever fixed mark, ever fixed mark…..ever fixed mark. And again …..edge of doom, edge of doom….edge of doom….
As the sun finally set on the Grand Canyon, and the last little rays of light ebbed away, the final echo sounded …. no man ever loved…ever loved…ever loved.
Then Shakespeare laid down his pen, and absorbed the silence.
After that, which is as complete an ending as ever I saw, words became superfluous.