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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Sacrifice of the Heart

"Platonic Love is a fool's name for the affection between a disability and a frost." Ambrose Bierce

How many of us have suffered the bitter sweet albeit humiliating line 'I like you only as a friend' or 'youre like a sister/brother to me'? in our younger or past years? A work collegue on mine recently told me of his heartbreak at the curse of platonic love and now that this friend of his knew how he felt it let their friendship dissapate to next to nothing. This platonic love has now turned into the torturous unrequited love. It reminded me of a poem by Ella Wilcox Wheeler that I loved and damn near know by heart from my own unrequited loves of my youth..

Platonic - Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I knew it the first of the summer,
I knew it the same at the end,
That you and your love were plighted,
But couldn’t you be my friend?
Couldn’t we sit in the twilight,
Couldn’t we walk on the shore
With only a pleasant friendship
To bind us, and nothing more?

There was not a word of folly
Spoken between us two,
Though we lingered oft in the garden
Till the roses were wet with dew.
We touched on a thousand subjects –
The moon and the worlds above, -
And our talk was tinctured with science,
And everything else, save love.

A wholly Platonic friendship
You said I had proven to you
Could bind a man and a woman
The whole long season through,
With never a thought of flirting,
Though both were in their youth,
What would you have said, my lady,
If you had known the truth!

What would you have done, I wonder,
Had I gone on my knees to you
And told you my passionate story,
There in the dusk and the dew?
My burning, burdensome story,
Hidden and hushed so long –
My story of hopeless loving –
Say, would you have thought it wrong?

But I fought with my heart and conquered,
I hid my wound from sight;
You were going away in the morning,
And I said a calm goodnight.
But now when I sit in the twilight,
Or when I walk by the sea
That friendship, quite Platonic,
Comes surging over me.
And a passionate longing fills me
For the roses, the dusk, the dew;
For the beautiful summer vanished,
For the moonlight walks – and you.

I love the imagery that wilcox uses in the aftermath of the woman leaving, the quite despair and longing he feels of her absence as he walks along the sea. It is a very simple and quitely passionate tale.
My second choice of poetry comes from the master of unrequited love; WB Yeats, for his is a tale that spans over fifty years for the love of one woman, Maude Gonne.

No Second troy WB Yeats
Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?
This great Yeats poem deals with the poet's relationship with his beloved, Maud Gonne. A great mixture of feelings in the poem shows Yeats' own ambiguity in his emotions towards her. There are traces of reproach, admiration, jealousy and forgiveness, reflecting his real life relationship with the woman herself. This emotional turbulence is understandable when you realise that despite several rejections of his marriage proposals Yeats remained infatuated with Maud Gonne all his life.

As for my collegue there is no salve for platonic/unrequited love only time and I doubt very much he will take to the pen and ink to excorcise the demons that dwell within him at this point in time. But I did avoid showing him this article in the metro news yesterday..

A 76-year-old Chinese man has failed to get a divorce from his wife of 50 years on the grounds of the marriage being sexless. State media reported today that the man, identified only by his surname Ma, complained to a court in south-west China's Chongqing city that he had not slept with his wife for years.Instead, he said, he wished to live with his girlfriend, who is in her 40s. The court rejected the request, arguing that the love tying the couple together, although platonic, must be strong and stable since they had remained married for half a century.


Glamourpuss said...

Personally, I think unrequited love serves a purpose. It allows one to love without real intimacy, and there fore, risk. And it fulfils some emotional need. If we were truly healthy, we would not continue to pursue love objects who reject us, we would accept they were not for us and would move on. I say this as someone who loved a man unrequitedly for five years, then rejected him when he finally offered himself to me.


Judith said...

I agree with you on the point if we where truly healthy we would not pursue love objects which reject us. But the heart bares such a war on sound thinking that for most of us who have experieced such torment its the gradual wretch that sometimes takes an infinity to move on.

Pickled Olives said...

I have always found that when some guy showed he liked me way more than I liked him, it scared me, I thought there was something wrong with him and always threw that guy back. When I showed a guy i liked him way more than he liked me, I always got kicked to the curb. I would say, I can't remember a name or face of any of those infatuations. I was just lucky enough to get practice on them, for when I met Poor Bill, I knew enough not to be obvious and scarey.

Judith said...

I think life throws us these decoys of love in preparation for 'the real thing' so when we do come across really lasting potential relationships we have prepped ourselves not to be 'obvious & scarey' LOL

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nobody quite holds a candle to Yeats. He's my hero.

What a delightful term "decoys of love" is. Unrequited love is less delightful. I am quite familiar with the concept, but agree that all those long-ago hurts were only practice for the real thing.

I have heard it said that in every relationship, one loves more than the other. I am sure that in the best ones, both parties love one another equally, and that is what we all deserve.

Stucco said...

No no no no. That "like a brother" or "as a friend" bullshit completely sucks. I had WAY more than my fair share of that crap.

I'll never understand why it is that females, who are capable of multiple orgasms, are so disinclined to let young, hormonally imbalanced lads to refine their abilities.

slaghammer said...

I believe the emotional aspects of this issue have been adequately addressed, so how about we kill the mood with pseudo-science. Regarding relationships that involve sexual tension, I think platonic structures stem from instinctual tendencies to avoid inbreeding. It has often been a problem, especially in under populated cultures, for young adults who have been raised in very close proximity to their prospective (future) mates, to overcome the issues of “girl germs“ and “coodie turds.” It is not uncommon to hear of ancient and contemporary cultures alike who still separate young males from females for extended periods of time as part of the “coming of age” tradition. It is easy to write these things off as obvious attempts to keep filthy girl-hungry young men away from vulnerable young women. While there are multitudes of rational reasons to separate hormone crazed kids from one another, the most significant benefit of this strategy, from an evolutionary and natural selection point of view, has to be the propagation of the species and the diversification of the gene pool. It all sounds pretty cut and dry I know. But alas, when you break love down to it’s constituent components, all you have are neat little piles of chemical compounds and biological debris. I learned all of this at a prestigious place of higher learning called the University of I Don’t Know What the F*ck I’m Talking About. I dropped out after one semester because they clearly had no f*cking idea what they were talking about. ;-)

Judith said...

'decoys of love', now that you have zoned in on that expression in my minds eye all I could hear was some news reader telling the public to be aware of the 'decoys of love' that are currently flooding the country LOL (I swear to you Im not drinking - just rambling LOL) Ahh Yeats the weaver of dreams of the cloths of heaven - marvelous man!
Ive SO been there . you almost wish you could say to them after they deliver the line, there and then 'what the fuck is wrong with me ? I havent got ten heads ,decent (?!) Im a smouldering fucking lover and your choosing that gawky looking looser over this *points at oneself*' then the snotty tears and the fuck you's come to the brim.. Still happy memories because somewhere along the line you know you found someone that rocks your world and theyre stuck in looserville -empty & souless and pining for the 'one that got away' aka you. I play this over in my head when I find myself daydreaming of those times and cackling away to myself in self satisfaction
Other cultures seem to have some logic in their customs alright as far as seperating the sex's until they come of age. But our masochistic society loves the thrill of the chase, but all love when broken down in its most primordial form is just genetics and darwinistic. I love your term though 'filthy girl hungry young men' I wish I met more of their sort when I was younger LOL

General Catz said...

Same here. Who hasn't heard those awful words? Seems like that's all i have been hearing for nearly a quarter of a century.

As for keeping girls and boys apart, i have my own ideas on that but can't be arsed to write it down.

Love that Yeats poem, want to poke hot pointy sticks in the eyes of the Chinese gentleman.