Thursday, May 21, 2009

Love on the Brain

Last post provoked reflection on love, for a person, for the universe. Anything else I would have to say about this at the moment would be an embarrassment, but I was struck yesterday by this passage from Charlotte Bronte's Villette (the reminiscences of Miss Marchmont).

I haven't finished the book, so don't send any spoilers, Villette fans (you know who you are).

"I love Memory to-night," she said: "I prize her as my best friend. She is just now giving me a deep delight; she is bringing back to my heart, in warm and beautiful life, realities--not mere empty ideas--but what were once realities, and that I long have thought decayed, dissolved, mixed in with grave-mould. I possess just now the hours, the thoughts, the hopes of my youth. I renew the love of my life--its only love--almost its only affection; for I am not a particularly good woman: I am not amiable. Yet I have had my feelings, strong and concentrated; and these feelings had their object; which in its single self, was dear to me, as, to the majority of men and women, are all the unnumbered points on which they dissipate their regard. While I loved, and while I was loved, what an existence I enjoyed! What a glorious year I can recall--how bright it comes back to me! What a living spring--what a warm, glad summer--what soft moonlight, silvering the autumn evenings--what strength of hope under the ice-bound waters and frost-hoar fields of that year's winter! Through that year my heart lived with Frank's heart. O my noble Frank--my faithful Frank--my good Frank! so much better than myself--his standard in all things so much higher! This I can now see and say--if few women have suffered as I did in his loss, few have enjoyed what I did in his love. It was a far better kind of love than common; I had no doubts about it or him: it was such a love as honoured, protected, and elevated, no less than it gladdened her to whom it was given. Let me now ask, just at this moment, when my mind is so strangely clear,--let me reflect why it was taken from me? For what crime was I condemned, after twelve months of bliss, to undergo thirty years of sorrow?"

Is there anything more sad than this? As Samuel Johnson said of friendship, one must keep love--of someone, or something--in constant repair.


Retriever said...

Isn't the story of Charles Dickens and Maria even more sad? Childhood sweethearts, split, apart for years, resuming a written acquaintance. Finally meeting and he finds her repellent: fat and silly. Devastating for her, disappointing for him. Tho he got plenty of literary mileage out of it between Little Dorrit and David Copperfield....Poor Maria. Perhaps better to have idealized each other forever and never met.

But I love the quote. True love is so rare. Those moments so precious. But they redeem a life. A few minutes before a crackling fire and one can bear a whole day trudging thru the grey cold and damp. Warmed by the thought of the fire.

"OMG, Mom, old people like you are ridiculous talking about love...".(just wait, Novalis, til your sweet young kids become snarky teens! Then is when your wife will need all your devotion!)

Anonymous said...

'Crazy Love' documents the obsessive/destructive/jealous/abusive/reconstructive/insane/deeply sad relationship between Burt and Linda Pugach. In short, he hires a guy to blind her following her engagement to another man, and after serving 20 yrs in prison, they resume their relationship in part due to desperate convenience, loneliness, and shared mutual damage that rendered them both hopeless and despairing - completely worthless without each other. She is now utterly dependent on him - I guess it's just what he always wanted. A strange brand of 'love' indeed...

They probably reminisce about the good old days of their sublime relationship as they slowly decay.