"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.