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January 25, 2011

a lovely piece of work and a skeptic's afterthought...

"We two were lovers, the Sea and I;
We plighted our troth ‘neath a summer sky.

And all through the riotous ardent weather
We dreamed, and loved, and rejoiced together.

At times my lover would rage and storm.
I said: ‘No matter, his heart is warm.’

Whatever his humour, I loved his ways,
And so we lived though the golden days.

I know not the manner it came about,
But in the autumn we two fell out.

Yet this I know – ‘twas the fault of the Sea,
And was not my fault, that he changed to me.

I lingered as long as a woman may
To find what her lover will do or say.

But he met my smiles with a sullen frown,
And so I turned to the wooing Town.

Oh, bold was this suitor, and blithe as bold!
His look was as bright as the Sea’s was cold.

As the Sea was sullen, the Town was gay;
He made me forget for a winter day.

For a winter day and a winter night
He laughed my sorrow away from sight.

And yet, in spite of his mirth and cheer,
I knew full well he was insincere.

And when the young buds burst on the tree,
The old love woke in my heart for the Sea.

Pride was forgotten – I knew, I knew,
That the soul of the Sea, like my own, was true.

I heard him calling, and lo! I came,
To find him waiting, for ever the same.

And when he saw me, with murmurs sweet
He ran to meet me, and fell at my feet.

And so again ‘neath the summer sky
We have plighted our troth, the Sea and I"

--Ella Wheeler Wilcox


When i first read this poem, i was speechless..almost spell bound.There was something which tugged at my heart strings which refused to let go long after i'd finished reading.
After a few hours of unintentional contemplation, i found myself questioning the reality of this poem..about the ethical value of relationships, about the genuineness of love and about the hypothetical consequences such a situation could have for them, in today's age & time.
It made me question the lover's decision, her dying-a-little-everyday when she realised that 'the sea' had changed towards her, her emotional conflict when she met 'the town' who wooed her, her disappointment when she was let down a second time and last but not the least, her state of mind when she decided to go back.

The ending stanza made me happy for her--it made me feel her happiness-what she must have felt when the love of her life apologised and accepted her, being only too happy at her return.
but alas, the skeptic in me didn't let this happiness last for long as my mind started to delve into the unspoken possibilities the future could hold.
It made me wonder how long this relationship could last, knowing there had already been a fall-out, a breach of trust and a recoil.

Frankly i think this poem is about three entities who are responsible for such a relationship to eventually crumble someday.

1) "the sea" who with his idiosyncracies (depicted by the usage of words 'rage' and 'storm') tested its lovers patience to a point of utter disgust arising out of frustration from being neglected/taken for granted..

2) "the town" because all his virtues are negated due to his insincere nature..

3) "the lover" since she has commited the grave folly of falling for someone when she clearly has not moved on.
moresoever, she has worsened it by going back to 'the sea' only after realising that 'the town' isn't good enough..

what if at some point in the relationship, 'the sea' goes back to his original raging self again, and they fall out of love all over again?
would she be able to trust another 'town' considering the infidile nature of the previous 'town' she encountered?
would she be able to love 'the sea' as she ought to, knowing that the 'good' change was just a temporary phase which changed again?
wouldn't the 'falling out' of love be inevitable?

and then again, what if 'the town' had been genuine? would she have still realised her love for 'the sea'? if yes, then wouldn't that be unfair to the town? would she be able to live with the guilt of breaking a genuine heart amidst her so called 'selfish' realisations?
if no, then where is the love she is claiming she still has for 'the sea'??

and what about 'the sea'? would it really have changed? could it realise its fault and truly stop taking her for granted after knowing that it was she who finally returned?
and how long would the apology last before it changed back into its scary self again?

IMHO, all three would be responsible had the relationship not to work out eventually..but most responsible for the tragedy would be the lover who returned..for she was stupid to expect a permanent change in something so ephemeral to have had changed, in the first place.
but im also aware that love knows no logic and it is almost impossible extinguish the tiny flame of hope in the heart of someone who has loved and lost, until the very end!!

lots of questions..no definite answers..afterall what is 'right' or 'wrong' is just a subjective thought :)
all said, its a lovely poem to be read and enjoyed without serious contemplation, a concept which my skeptic mind somehow fails to understand nowadays.

If only i knew how the story ended...

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