Tuesday, January 8, 2013

e.e. cummings: i love you much(most beautiful darling)

Usually, when people talk as though the analysis of art automatically gets in the way of its enjoyment, I just roll my eyes.

Of course bad analysis can destroy any experience. But good analysis? That would only be a problem if beauty wasn't real.

If beauty has no rational basis, then aesthetic enjoyment can't be anything other than an escape from reason. This is the attitude toward beauty that flows through our culture, and that I'd absorbed unconsciously.

I remember the morning when I changed my mind about beauty. We were sitting in the university cafeteria eating waffles, when that strangely intense young man began talking about Lewis and Schaeffer, and laying out arguments for why beauty had to be real, and why that mattered.

I was actually quite hostile to the idea, terrified of believing anything so wonderful. But after a few hours of futile struggling, he convinced me that there was really no way around it, and I may as well just resign myself to living in a glorious world where goodness, truth, and beauty are real and deeply intertwined.

My life has never been the same since. I began to operate under the assumption that the more I know about a thing, the better I'll be able to enjoy it. It was a risky leap of faith, with the potential to destroy all my enjoyment of everything if I was wrong, but it turned out well. There were some things that I'd previously enjoyed, that crumbled under analysis, but that was a small price to pay in exchange for all the deeper beauties that I found, and for the certitude that they really were beautiful.

I fell madly in love with the intense young man who brought the glad news, and we've been married for ten-and-a-half years now. Our life together is one big conversation, and it's utterly continuous with that first conversation in the cafeteria, although more complex now. Our souls have grown, and tiny new souls have begun to chirp out their own contributions, but it's still the same conversation.

All that is to say that I'm surprised to find myself loving this poem without knowing why, and without even needing to know why.

But I do love it.

Analyze it if you wish--I won't mind. In fact, I'll be grateful. The poem is lovely enough that I'm utterly certain that there's good solid reason behind its loveliness.

And by now I'm so confident of that, I'm okay with not yet knowing exactly why.


i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone's heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

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