I know I'm a bit late for a st.Valentine's Day post, but we're still in the week of love so nobody minds if I'm writing just today
or at least judge me silently, lol.
As the title says, love is for everyone. Everybody likes it, everybody has a tiny space in his/her heart for someone - a friend, a pet, a colleague, a relative- and even if the feeling of falling in love is totally different from the emotion of love, there's a time in each life where a man or a woman do feel something for someone. In those cases you think you're the only one, or you're the best couple of the world, something nobody will ever recreate again. On the one hand it's true, you and your lovey are unique, but on the other hand it's not. Many other people felt, feel and will feel attachment for someone. Love is for everyone.
But how did men and women describe love many centuries ago? Let's discover it!
Let's start with Sappho, a Greek lyric poet six centuries before Christ. If you're smart enough you'll notice her name sounds like the word sapphic. Guess why? I give you a suggestion: the island where she was born is called Lesbos.
He appears to me, that one, equal to the gods,
the man who, facing you,
is seated and, up close, that sweet voice of yours
he listens to
And how you laugh your charming laugh. Why it
makes my heart flutter within my breast,
because the moment I look at you, right then, for me,
to make any sound at all won’t work any more.
My tongue has a breakdown and a delicate
— all of a sudden — fire rushes under my skin.
With my eyes I see not a thing, and there is a roar
that my ears make.
Sweat pours down me and a trembling
seizes all of me; paler than grass
am I, and a little short of death
do I appear to me.
If make a big jump of five hundred and fifty years and we go to Rome, we meet Catullus, a young man fallen in love with a woman older than him who returned his feelings.
Let us live
Let us live, my Lesbia, let us love,
and all the words of the old, and so moral,
may they be worth less than nothing to us!
Suns may set, and suns may rise again:
but when our brief light has set,
night is one long everlasting sleep.
Give me a thousand kisses, a hundred more,
another thousand, and another hundred,
and, when we’ve counted up the many thousands,
confuse them so as not to know them all,
so that no enemy may cast an evil eye,
by knowing that there were so many kisses.
But after many days spent with her, he started to notice she didn't love him as much as the first times.
Odi et amo
I love and I hate. Why do I? You may well ask.
I don't know. But I feel and it tortures me.
At the end he understood that Lesbia didn't love him anymore.
You used to say
You used to say once that you alone knew Catullus,
Lesbia, and that you'd rather be holding me than Jupiter himself.
At that time I loved you not as the common man loves a girlfriend
but as a father loves his sons and sons-in-law.
Now I know you: so even if I burn the worse,
you are cheaper and more trivial to me.
How can this be, you ask? Because a hurt of such a kind
forces a lover to love more, but to wish the beloved less well.
By the way, in this case Lesbia has nothing to do with modern lesbians, it was just a nickname for his girl. The name refers to that greek poet above.
I don't know how many of you has ever read the Dante
's Divine Comedy, but I guess you all know what it deals with: a man who goes down to Hell where he manage to flee and then he meets God after have climbed the Purgatory. Religious stuff, practically. Not the topic at all. Nobody should care.
Nope! we should, because there's a beautiful passage where Dante describes Paolo and Francesca's material and not-chaste-at-all love (italian version here)
"One day for our own pleasure we were reading
Of Lancelot and how love pinioned him.
We were alone and innocent of suspicion.
Several times that reading forced our eyes
To meet and took the color from our faces.
But one solitary moment conquered us.
When we read there of how the longed-for smile
Was being kissed by that heroic lover,
This man, who never shall be severed from me,
rembling all over, kissed me on the mouth.
That book — and its author — was a pander!
In it that day we did no further reading"
There are many other poets in Mediterranean history from XIII century who deserve to be quoted, but for what I remember now, many of those people actually wrote political or philosophical poems. I think I should make a different journal for them. But how can I end this one?
Let's see, I posted a poem about desire, passion, agony, jealousy, and romance. What's missing? Oh yes: everlasting love. And I know what to quote: an italian poem from Montale; a quite recent piece, though, but touching anyway. He wrote it after the dead of his wife, known to have sight deficiency.
I went down, giving you my arm
I went down, giving you my arm, at least one million of stairs
and now that you are no more here it’s the void on every step.
Also in such way our long journey has been short too.
Mine still goes on, and I need no more
traps, shames of those who think
that reality is that what you see.
I went down millions of stairs giving you my arm
not just because it’s better to see with four eyes than two.
With you I went down because I knew that between us
the only true pupils, though so much darkened,
Much love for everyone!