I was reading some of Spenser's Amoretti this morning. But first a lovely little something I just saw on facebook.
I know. I'm distractible. But it relates... really.
Last night, as I folded the mountain of laundry, I listened to a lecture from my alma mater on the difficulty of communicating absolute truth in a media-saturated age.
Images, you see, are more about feelings than about truth. You can't argue with an image.
Actually, you can argue with an image... it just takes work. A lot of work.
(Our family makes a hobby of analyzing billboard imagery as we drive around. I highly recommend the practice, both for entertainment value, and the opportunities to discuss important stuff. But I digress from my digression.)
Surrounded by powerful images, we've become a culture driven by emotions divorced from reason, and that has led to all sorts of appalling troubles.
But here's the weird thing: I could have very easily flipped over to another section of the archives, and listened to a lecture on scientism, and the way in which our culture has become obsessed with reason divorced from any overarching story. That's true, too, and it's contributed to the exact same problems.
Our trouble isn't too much emotion or too much reason. Our trouble is that reason and emotion are no longer on speaking terms.
That's why I care so much about poetry. Thinking hard about feelings, feeling deeply about ideas: this matters. It matters a lot.
So I press on with my sonnets, hoping to contribute my own tiny scrap of thread toward the patching of this gaping tear. Goldie Blox is a stitch of a completely different sort, and I'm so very happy to see it.
And now for the Spenser sonnet that I was intending to share in the first place. The moment Spenser describes is perhaps nearly universal, but as he points out, it is really rather strange and unnatural. It's also (hopefully) brief. Opposites really do attract... but it's so that they can moderate one another. Otherwise, it's very, very miserable--and fodder for good poetry, of course.
That's the other reason why poetry matters. There's no experience so miserable that it can't be turned to good use in a poem. =)
(I hope you don't mind, but I've taken the liberty of updating the spelling a little bit. I do realize that Spenser wanted to be archaic... but I think that by this point he's probably old enough to be archaic without even trying.)
by Edmund Spenser
My love is like to ice, and I to fire;
how comes it then that this her cold so great
is not dissolv'd through my so hot desire,
but harder grows the more I her entreat?
Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
is not delayed by her heart frozen cold:
but that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
and feel my flames augmented manifold?
What more miraculous thing may be told
that fire which all thing melts, should harden ice:
and ice which is congealed with senseless cold,
should kindle fire by wonderful device?
Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
that it can alter all the course of kind.
Michael Symmons Roberts*
1 day ago