As a poetry enthusiast, I was excited this Christmas when I found a poem on the inside of a wrapper. It was a tiny excerpt from a much longer poem that I further read. Its complexity baffled me and inspired me to share my understanding and love for it, as it is a poem that I now deeply adore.
"They try to persuade me, my dear little sprite,
That you are not a daughter of ether and light,
Nor have any concern with those fanciful forms
That dance upon rainbows and ride upon storms;
That, in short, you're a woman; your lip and your breast
As mortal as ever were tasted or press'd!...."
So smitten by the girl, he thinks she descended from heaven, a mystical creature with superpowers. He refuses to believe that she is a mortal woman like any other. He no longer believes in science and dull reasoning. He tells the angelic woman that she doesn't realize that fantasy, to the mere human being, is more beautiful than the truth of nature. People who are truly mesmerized never ask why they feel the way they do or how a miracle comes to happen. The poet believes that people would rather frantically write about the glory of rapture like madmen than never feel it.
"No, no -- but for you, my invisible love,
I will swear, you are one of those spirits that rove
By the bank where, at twilight, the poet reclines,
When the star of the west on his solitude shines,
And the magical fingers of fancy have hung...."
The poet calls his "invisible love" a mystical spirit that haunts poets as they relax by the banks as the sun sets over his loneliness and his imagination and his desire for her makes him feel as though the wind and the leaves on trees whisper to him. The effect of relaxation is what sparks creativity in the poet's mind and forms into poetry that might not be well known to mankind, the way his ethereal lover who seems to the child of the sun and the moon is not visible to the world. He laments about how he is fated to roam the earth, loving her, as she is intangible but forever close. He speaks to his lover even in crowded rooms as people whisper concerns about him.
"Oh! come and be near me, forever be mine,
We shall hold in the air a communion divine,
As sweet as, of old, was imagin'd to dwell
In the grotto of Numa, or Socrates' cell.
And oft, at those lingering moments of night,
When the heart is weigh'd down and the eyelid is light,
You shall come to my pillow and tell me of Iove
Such as angel to angel might whisper above!...."
The poet wishes for his nymph to whisper to him like an angel, about love, as he falls asleep with her bodily voice echoing in his mind and his heart, even though he is far from the light of her smile, mourning as though he is in exile. The poet finally reveals that the ghostly whispers of his lover, Cara, comfort him through the night, as when dawn comes, they can reunite.
What frazzled my mind the most about this poem is the question of whether "Cara" is, in fact, a woman who is in the same dimension as the poet.
Is she a fragment of his imagination? A ghost? Or is the poet describing the sheer pain of spending time separated from his lover?
This poem, to me, describes what true love would feel like. A feeling so strong it seems like insanity to anyone who doesn't understand it. The poet's concept of miracles and fantasy being something that one should experience and not analyze puts a lot about our doubt-filled everyday lives and makes us wonder at what point in our lives we transition from living a life of mesmerization and joy to a life where we require a reason for even the tiniest of blessings.
This poem is an ode not just to love, but also the creativity and the fantasies of our minds that make us unique and live on through the legacies we leave behind, irrespective of whether they are meant to be profound and well known, as the life we live is only lived once.