Last night a letter was sent anonymously and mistakenly redirected, which consisted of Andrew Marvell's poem 'The Definition of Love'. Three different people read it, at the same time, the direction cutting between each one of them. The incantation of the poem shed light across the whole episode: the words meant different things to everyone, and they formed the pivot of the episode, transforming each person's attitude to the central problems. Poems seem to me like magic spells, but the spell is the poem, it is performative in itself.
THE DEFINITION OF LOVE.
by Andrew Marvell
MY Love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis, for object, strange and high ;
It was begotten by Despair,
Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble hope could ne'er have flown,
But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.
And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixed ;
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.
For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect loves, nor lets them close ;
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic power depose.
And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant poles have placed,
(Though Love's whole world on us doth wheel),
Not by themselves to be embraced,
Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear.
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramp'd into a planisphere.
As lines, so love's oblique, may well
Themselves in every angle greet :
But ours, so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.
Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.