"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kiss Today



"IN this Æglogue two shepheards boyes taking occasion of the season, beginne to make purpose of loue and other pleasaunce, which to springtime is most agreeable. The speciall meaning hereof is, to giue certaine markes and tokens, to know Cupide the Poets God of Loue. But more particularlye I thinke, in the person of Thomalin is meant some secrete freend, who scorned Loue and his knights so long, till at length him selfe was entangled, and unwares wounded with the dart of some beautifull regard, which is Cupides arrowe.

Thomalin, why sytten we soe,
As weren ouerwent with woe,
Vpon so fayre a morow?
The ioyous time now nighest fast,
That shall alegge this bitter blast,
And slake the winters sorowe.

Sicker Wyllie, thou warnest well:
For Winters wrath beginnes to quell,
And pleasant spring appeareth.
The grasse now ginnes to be refresht,
The Swallow peepes out of her nest,
And clowdie Welkin cleareth.
" [Welkin = sky, heavens]

Woodcut illustration
and poet's introduction and opening stanzas
for the Month of March
from "The Shepheardes Calender," 1579
by Edmund Spenser, English Poet (1552 - 1599)

With the coming of March, Cupid, "little Love," as the shepherds call him, has awakened and is sneaking about the woods, "abroad at his game." He flits behind trees and bushes, betrayed by the vivid colors of his "winges of purple and blewe . . . spotted winges like Peacockes trayne." [You'll notice that Spenser wrote back in the good old days when you didn't have to remember your apostrophes!]

Also easy to envision is Emily Dickinson's breezy personification of March walking down the path and bursting through the front door. The narrator welcomes March with open arms, a kiss perhaps. Sometimes March is a Lion, sometimes a Lamb, but for Dickinson, March is a Gentleman Caller:

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat--
You must have walked --
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did Nature leave you well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell! --Emily Dickinson

March and the Poet are left to catch up on all the latest gossip before April arrives, much as Spenser's two shepherds discuss their strategies for love and courtship in the coming months, one imparting advice to the other:

"Let be, as may be, that is past:
That is to come, let be forecast.
Now tell vs, what thou hast seene.

In other words:

Kiss today goodbye,
The sweetness and the sorrow.
Wish me luck, the same to you.
But I can't regret
What I did for love,
what I did for love.

Look my eyes are dry.
The gift was ours to borrow.
It's as if we always knew,
And I won't forget
what I did for love,
What I did for love.

Love is never gone.
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember.

Kiss today goodbye,
And point me toward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for

lyrics by by Edward Kleban
from A Chorus Line
music by Marvin Hamlisch

In the center are the two conversing shepherds, behind them is winged Cupid, and above them is the zodiac symbol for Aries, the Ram. To the left is Love's victim, "entangled [in a fowling net], and unwares wounded by the dart . . . of Cupides arrowe" and to the right is Thomalin fighting with Love, throwing stones to no avail.

Thomalin's rueful conclusion about the difficulties
of Love in the Springtime,
i.e., the Sweetness and the Sorrow:
Of Hony and of Gaule in loue there is store:
The Honye is much, but the Gaule is more.

Next Fortnightly Post
Sunday, March 14th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Take a look at
my running list of recent reading


  1. I was looking for a way to feel about March today as I look out onto piles and mounds and mounds of snow; your blog has helped me alot to think of March as part of "the possibles."
    Here's a quote I've been meaning to send you after you had a great quote about kisses:
    "And what is a kiss, specifically? A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the 'to love,' the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever'." Edmond Rostand, (1868-1918 -french playwright and poet[of course.])

  2. "How strange that Nature does not knock,
    and yet does not intrude!"
    ~ Emily Dickinson