Love: The poetry of senses

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Friday, February 14, 2014


IN WHATEVER gatherings – family reunions, alumni homecoming, and parties – one of the most infuriating questions, knowing that the person is still single, is: “So, when are you getting married?”

Recently, we asked some friends as to what would be best possible answer to that unfailingly annoying query. One of the best answers was from a young man from Florida who would tell the person asking him the question: “What’s the hurry? You’re not invited anyway.”

A lady from Cebu has a subtle way of saying it: “Oh you haven’t heard, we got married last week and we just didn’t want you at the ceremony!” (Hence, uninvited)

A Dabawenyo replied: “Has the Divorce Law been passed already?” Another one said: “When you decide to pay for the wedding and honeymoon!” Still another: “I’m just waiting for my fiancé’s parole.”

The most hilarious answer was from a thirtys0mething executive from Makati: “We are still waiting for the availability of Pope Benedict. If his schedule is okay and St. Peter’s Basilica is ready for our wedding, then my bride and I and the whole entourage for the wedding will go.”

A person should not marry because of money, fame, or companionship only. He or she should marry for love, that inscrutable thing which French novelist and playwright Honore Balzac considered as “the poetry of senses.”

Ah, love. “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,” so said Alfred Lord Tennyson. “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence,” reiterated German social psychoanalyst and psychologist Eric Fromm.

Love defies definition. In a scene of the stage play and movie, “Fiddler on the Roof,” the hero Tevye on one occasion keeps nagging his wife, Golda, asking her whether she loves him or not. He keeps wanting her to say she does, but she is in no romantic mood and brushes him off, until finally she turns to him and says:

“Look at this man, look at you. I am your wife, I cook your meals, wash your clothes, milk the cows, raise half a dozen daughters for you, my bed is yours, my time is yours, everything I have and am, I share with you – and after all that, you want to know whether I love you? Oh, well, I guess, I do…”

But how will you know it’s love? Judith Viorst, in an article that appeared in “Redbook,” gives some idea: “Infatuation is when you think he’s as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners. Love is when you realize that he’s as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford - but you’ll take him anyway.”

Love is such an impenetrable feeling. “Do I love you because you’re beautiful? Or are you beautiful because I love you?” wondered composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II a theme song for “Cinderella.”

Irish novelist and poet George Moore has the same in mind when he wrote: “The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.”

Love, indeed, can make a person write poetry and describes things beyond what normal people see. Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran wrote: “Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”

A grandmother knows this well. In fact, one of her most treasured possessions is a poem written by her 14-year-old granddaughter. It was given to her after the girl had lived with them for three years. “I wrote this for you,” the girl told her grandmother.

It was actually a poem, which has this conclusion: “Love needs time but most of all, love needs you. For without you, there is no time or love.”

Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.

The best definition of love and what love should be comes from the Holy Bible. I Corinthians 13:1-13 said it all: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

French dramatist Jean Anouilh puts it plainly: “Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.”

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 14, 2014.

Lifestyle

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