When Love Dies

3년 전

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare.JPG

I stare heavenward.
Above me, a cavernous ceiling.
Above me, all is overcast and grey.
I pass beneath.

I look down at my charge,
her eyes closed,
hands crossed,
white and still.

I ferry us down
the dark river,
to the silent lands,
for safe keeping.

My Lady in White,
you will be safe there.
No Prince Charming will come crashing,
to wake you, to take you, by force.

I look towards the gates,
with their three-headed guardian.
We will be safe,
once I commit you.

I will be safe there.
Life will not come crashing,
to wake me, to take me.

I will be safe there.
Heart closed,
white and still—

for love lies dead.

I usually don't spell these things out, but since I have friends on Steemit who care, I want to note that this piece is not true in the simple terms. My love is doing well. This piece came about as I thought of a hypothetical, and the feelings outlined above came to me. So it is true, in regards to feelings, but untrue as to the veridity of the truth-value of what is described. Such is art.

This is the third piece in "The Dark River" series. The first is "Acceptance", and the second is "The Empty House (i)".

Thanks to @whoshim, @sunravelme, @carolkean, @jrhughes, @liverussian, and @mamadini for providing feedback on this piece.

Check out my latest posts:

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art and flair courtesy of @PegasusPhysics

The image used is The Nightmare by John Henry Fuseli, 1781, and is public domain.

© Guy Shalev 2018.

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A weighty piece, which I would call ponderous if not for the unfortunate state of that term, burdened as it is with negative connotations. For this is a heavy poem that makes you ponder.

Multiple read-throughs yield some interesting speculations and alternative interpretations. The piece itself comes off well-thought out and tightly written, so I likely won't propose any alterations but instead focus on my impressions. I'll even include the more outlandish wanderings of mind the poem provoked. ;-)

I stare heavenward.
Above me, a cavernous ceiling.
Above me, all is overcast and grey.
I pass beneath.

My favorite part about this bit is the cavernous expanse above being described as "overcast and grey." I can picture a massive subterranean space so large it has its own (quite dreary) atmosphere.

I look down at my charge,
her eyes closed,
hands crossed,
white and still.

The repetition of the "cl" sound is nice here, intertwined with the S's that follow. Though I glimpsed it only on later reading passes where I formulated my somewhat odd view of this poem, the word "charge" is so associated with energy, electrical or otherwise, that it imbues these lines with a sense of potential energy. This atmosphere is not merely dreary, there is something buzzing beneath the surface.

I ferry us down
the dark river,
to the silent lands,
for safe keeping.

In reading this I wonder, are the soft sounds the river must make the final audible vestiges of the mortal world? I almost picture color also leaking out of the world on the journey to this silent place. "Safe keeping" is also integral to my view on this piece. But I'll get to that later.

My Lady in White,
you will be safe there.
No Prince Charming will come crashing,
to wake you, to take you, by force.

I think this is where we get into the meat of the message. What came before was painting vividly the scene, and foreshadowing. Death, dissolution, is being equated with safety. For all life is a matter of risk and reward, choice and consequence. It is also being equated with peace, and life with struggle (by force). But is this a stagnant serenity?

I look towards the gates,
with their three-headed guardian.
We will be safe,
once I commit you.

These lines intrigue me. Particularly the use of the term commit. One the one hand this can be the ferryman simply delivering his charge to sanctuary. On the other, it brings associations of contracts, commitments, promises: is this a purgatorial "lesser life," still binding as the fleshly existence?

I will be safe there.
Life will not come crashing,
to wake me, to take me.

The important part here is "I will be safe here," not before stated. Also, it is made plain that this is an allegory regarding the vicissitudes of Life itself, with its constant conflicts and crashes. Notably, the phrase "by force" has been omitted, a good choice, I think. "Crashing" conveys enough of a forceful, chaotic sense.

I will be safe there.
Heart closed,
white and still—

These lines say more than they first appear. White and still was used also to describe the Lady in White. Is this a metaphysical statement about the unity of the dead, divorced from the egoic illusion of separateness? The Heart is closed, but what is it's status? Is it in suspension, sleeping through silent aeons? Is it dissolved, transformed? I find these lines raise more questions than they answer, in my read.

for love lies dead.

I separated this final line, knowing it is integral to the three lines that precede it. Because (and this may be controversial) I do not find it a conclusion, but the beginning of a fuller interpretation.

"Love lies dead," is this a dark and nihilistic prescription? Can it be, when death is being likened to peace and safety throughout the poem? The lady in white also lies white and still: is her heart closed, as well? And though the heart be closed, that doesn't mean it is empty.

Is this a story about the vibrance of the heart being put in stasis, the ecstatic charge of life preserved therein? Now that love lies dead, perhaps it can express its atemporal nature, freed from the limitations of the living.

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Such a crisp scene you painted. Glad you included the notes, as sometimes it's hard to tell where a person was when they wrote a piece, and worry can follow close on empathy's heels. Really enjoyed this read, perfect on a grey day with a bit of sorrow already in my heart. ;)

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Thanks Kara!

A veces se nos ocurren palabras, frases, y oraciones que nos salen en forma de versos, pero en realidad crear poesías es una habilidad o un don que no posee todo el mundo. Me gustaría haber nacido y desarrollado ese maravilloso don, es muy hermoso. Gracias .

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Thank you for the kind words :)

And you know, practice makes perfect, as with all things.

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Gracias amigo. Nos vemos en la cima

What a great visual poem! I have been down that path and now I know that love didn't die, I just had to find the right one. Thanks for your great work!

Good writing 👍

This is a wonderful piece!

Thank you for the writing notes I was just about to bother you on discord ;) thankfully there is no need :)

Deceptively complex - I love it! The afterlife is a lot less black and white in Greek mythology than most other belief systems - this journey could mean so many things.

It works on the personal/metaphorical level as an exploration your own 'emotional knowledge', rather than truth in reality, as you allude to in your notes. Then it also works on the universal/literal level, the narrator (Charron himself, perhaps?) in fact committing the concept of love to the underworld.

Dark and moody, as these myths so often are, but with real feeling pushing through. It seems pessimistic at first but as I picked up on the references it quickly became more protective, a shepherding of sorts. The underworld is a lot more real and accessible than other cultural afterlives, which provides at least a small ray of hope...

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As soon as you've mentioned black and white, I figured out why the piece sends me to Jim Jarmush's "Dead Man" - the pace and the colours!!!! Especially the scene of "going down the river" are felt in the lines:


I ferry us down
the dark river,
to the silent lands,
for safe keeping.

In general the poem seems somewhat gothic to me... with the classic attributes of middle ages such as dragons and castles.

I like the image of Lady in White - light, purity, goddess, appearing in the dark and silence, but "she will be safe there" - that's what the narrator is desperately trying to convince themselves of, safety for both of them, we read those words THREE!!! times. Safety, but what was the danger they're trying to get out of? And the repetition helps us here:

No Prince Charming will come crashing,
to wake you, to take you, by force.
Life will not come crashing,
to wake me, to take me.

I love the repetition of the piece! It serves for many things here: uncertanity, pain, and the main one - the connection between the narrator and their beloved!!!! They're two parts of a whole, connected!

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