Poets have been endlessly talking about 'love's morn', and 'love's dawn', and 'a love that mourns', and 'lovelorn', and 'like a happy little gambolling fawn', and 'love that is like a sheep shorn', and 'love gone', and even 'jewellery is something that I love to adorn', although that last one is a bit suspect. Yes: if you are a poet, you could do worse than talk about love.
But, to get to my point. My point is this: love is something that has appeared in various contexts in various poetic traditions for centuries. Aside from my point, there are lots of other things to say about love. What good is it? What do you do when you fall in love, and is it all right if you romantically fall in love with an apple pie rather than a person? If not, why not, according to what philosophy, what are the arguments for and against, and would it be all right to do it with a sweet Lebanese pastry instead?
At the moment, I'm reading Philip Sidney's Arcadia, a comedy of love and lust written in Elizabethan times. It's full of insights into the Elizabethan conception of love - courtly love, romantic love, love of family and love of friends. I can't help but be struck as to how different it is to modern conceptions of love, or lack thereof. Let's do a little compare and contrast, shall we?
|Elizabethan Love||Modern Love|
|On falling in love||All sorts of dramatic similes are used - 'pierced with Cupid's bow', 'struck with glistering beams from her eyen', 'Your eyes do slay me', etc.||Frequently, modern couples skip this bit, as well as anything else that is inconvenient - marriage, commitment, children, etc. (Sarah Silverman: "I want to get an abortion - but my boyfriend is having trouble getting me pregnant.") For the term 'love', substitute 'lust'.|
|On meeting your lover||One good way is to dress yourself up in the clothes of the opposite sex (like Pyrocles in Arcadia, or Viola in Shakespeare's 12th Night)||Pick up lines! (eg, "The voices in my head told me to come over and talk to you", "So, you're a girl, huh?")|
|Courtship||Frequently involving flowers, unlikely speeches to one another that come out as sonnets ("If I profane with my unworthiest hand/ This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this..." etc, Romeo and Juliet)||Courtship? Something that happens either during tennis or after the divorce.|
|Revealing your true desires to the one you long after||Frequently done in song, or verses written in some obscure Grecian form, such as Iambic Pentameter, Trenchant Heptameter, or Galloping Archaics.||People exchange phone numbers, in order to reveal their true feelings through an expansive poetic form called 'TXT messages'. Phone numbers can also be exchanged as an agreement not to communicate (eg, "As an empty courtesy, here's my phone number. Let's not turn this beautiful one-night stand into a horrible long-lasting relationship.")|
So what's better: Elizabethan love or modern love? I have no idea, but is there any of that apple pie left? I have a sonnet that I wanted to read out to it...