arbitrary stuff that comes to mind: whenever I feel like thinking aloud

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Keats, 2 Odes, and 2 Things to avoid in Relationships

Most of us struggled with poetry in school.
So much heavy lifting, and really, all the poet's saying is "I'm feeling depressed because the girl doesn't fancy me any more". *sigh*. *deeper sigh* "Anyway, I'll keep on loving her and then maybe it will be all right or I'll just end it all" *deepest sigh of all*.
All pretty straight forward, now let's get Adele to set it to music and we can all listen to it and Feel Deep About Life and Stuff.

Sadly, the academic world doesn't want you get down to the guts of the matter, they want you to be intelligent about it. Never mind about them, I ended up liking Poetry despite the best efforts of all those Teachers.

Let’s talk Keats and Relationships instead

Its 1819 and Keats is struggling with the idea of Beauty.
As life and chance would have it, he ends up in the London Museum in front of this great big vase with a number of scenes engraved on to it. The Grecian Urn. He walks around it, and there's a scene from a hunt, another of a bull being led to sacrifice and then there's a young man promising love, life, and the pleasures of the body to his girlfriend. This is it! Beauty! Everlasting, unchanging! A frieze perfectly frozen for eternity!

But then he has an oh-oh moment. He changes his mind about this Meaning of Beauty thing, because - well basically because there is no fulfillment. The hunt will never end, the bull remains unsacrificed, the couple never get it off. So, like - hey, what's the point? It’s all an abstraction and we get stuck in that moment and ... who needs that?

This depresses him (as most things seemed to) and he is left with no answer other than that it is what it is. After a Great Deal of Agony he writes his Ode to a Grecian Urn.

Some time later (weeks/months/days?) he is sitting in the park in this state of depression when he hears a nightingale sing. The song is so real, he finds himself so moved by it that he is convinced that he has found the Meaning of it All. But, oh-ho. (there's always an oh-oh when it comes to Keats). Oh-oh ~ it dawns on him that the bird can fly away, leave him, drop him back to the place he came from. Like any number of girls I have known, this bird can fly. And so he pens his "Ode to A Nightingale".

what do we learn from this?

Don't be his Grecian Urn ....

What is it with some people that they want you to be stuck in that time zone when they met you, only stripped of everyone else who was in it? What is it with them? While they carry on living and changing and growing, the only thing you are allowed to be is congruent with them. Which is another way of saying it's OK for them to have careers, find new challenges, friends and so on, but your role is to adapt to them and Stay the Same as when We Met.
Be the Muse.
Like I want to live the rest of my Life as your Muse?
We all know what happens to the Muse 5 years down the track ...

Why are you so Afraid I'm your Nightingale?

There's something so wrong in the idea that if I meet new people, build a career, go ANYWHERE without you that I'll turn into a nightingale and take the song away forever. Where do you get such a low self-image? Trust me, if I'm going to hop off, fly away and never come back to the nest it won't be because we're not permanently joined at the hip. To the contrary, joined to your hip is the best way to lose my song.
And I happen to like my song.

A couple grows together, or it grows apart: that's the homily ~ but the truth is we all need space to grow ... so let's take a message from Keats and his struggles with Beauty:

  • Being someone's Grecian Urn - not on. Get out of it! It's dark and lonely and sad stuck inside a Vase, no matter how beautifully its engraved; and,
  • If you're being treated like a Nightingale, then it’s probably best to fly away before your wings are permanently clipped and you find yourself in an iron-clad, not-so-gilded cage ...

You deserve better.

Sadly, Keats himself died shortly hereafter from Tuberculosis, lost in love to Fanny Brawne.
But he left us a legacy, and an unwitting message for Relationships in general.

All images under wikipedia's Wikimedia Commons


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