Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A birthday

Stickied Introduction:

In order to prepare for a two week trip with my lovely wife to Rome it is necessary for me to write 20 blog posts ahead of time. I don't have a lot of time to do this. I'm not sure I actually have any time to do this. But I have made a sacred charter, somewhere, I think, that says I must post a new blog post everyday. So I wanted to put a stickied explanation of the desperation of my plight at the top of each of my next twenty blog posts.

I am hoping this will explain why my comments might be (checked (X) as appropriate):

__ Brief

__ Incoherent

__ First drafts

__ Silly

__ Unfinished

__ Borderline plagiarized from someone else

xx Borderline plagiarized from myself

__ Petty about the Internet

__ Pandering to the reader

__ Technically illegal in the country of Turkey

__ Ending abruptly

__ Too frank by half

__ Pretty much just the lyrics of some song I like

__ Actually a lot like any of my regular blog posts

This particular post is:

02 of 20

End of Stickied Introduction

One of my original plans for what to do about going to Rome for two weeks, and how to keep up on my blog for that time, was that I would run repeats. I decided against it as a slight violation of my terms.

But today as I write is May 12. This will be posted up on May 23. I feel confident that I will be happy on May 23. And I found this, from my archives, that explains why. 

I hope fate will not be tempted.

It may not be the most pithy quote, or the deepest, but for the sheer Beatles level popularity and ubiquity of it there may be no quote that beats

'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

While rivaled, surely there is no more gigantic quote.

This morning I was thinking about it. I assumed it must be by Shakespeare or something. And I was right! It is by or something.

I love getting things right.

The line is from a long poem, In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII by Lord Alfred Tennyson. I didn't know about all that, specifically, or at all, but I do know now, and I would rather look forward than dwell on the always less informed versions of my former self.

You might as well have the whole passage that concludes with these enduring lines because, though they're a bit of work, they fill it out nicely, though they don't change it at all in its basic meaning, in case you were worried.

I envy not in any moods
         The captive void of noble rage,
         The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:

I envy not the beast that takes
         His license in the field of time,
         Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
         The heart that never plighted troth
         But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
         I feel it, when I sorrow most;
         'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all. 

Perhaps some small part of this quote's mighty success is that it barely exceeds saying nothing. It may as well be saying that it is better to live and die than to just be dead. It is worth the loss of anything to have something.

But despite the claims of an occasional bumper sticker of a lesser quote, love is not life. Love is better. Life fights death to a draw. But love alone triumphs over death, even as death has the last word. And that is Tennyson's claim and his genius.
I am never terribly fond of the device in books and movies where the impediment to a romance is one person's fear of loss. After all, 'tis better to have loved and lost than
 never to have loved at all. But I understand it. Nothing terrifies me more than the loss of the one I love. I am sure I could not bear it. I am certain it would break me, mangle me, diminish me. It would destroy me. But like Tennyson I can look darkness in the eye. It will have its sickening victory, but I, I have won forever.

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