Monday, July 18, 2011

The Bittersweet

I hate bittersweet shit. I mean like movies. Not like chocolate. I like all varieties of chocolate. But I have bittersweet sentiment in movies and television and songs. I fucking HATE The Notebook. I know this makes me not a real girl apparently, because every girl I know LUUUUHUUUHUUUVS this movie, but it makes me want to punch someone in the face. I don't like movies that feel manipulative to me, like they are willfully trying to illicit an emotional response from me. They are TRYING to make me cry and I don't appreciate it.

The only kind of bittersweet I like is poetry. I don't like bittersweet books, they piss me off. But I like poetry. Maybe it's because it doesn't have such a lasting effect on me. But that isn't quite right, either. For the most part, poetry does stay with me longer than a book or movie. Certain lines will continue to run through my head, like getting a song stuck in my head, only more potent. Sometimes I get certain poems mixed up with others, because I have a mash-up going in my brain of one line from Yeats, and two lines from Wordsworth, and one line From Eliot, and a line from Dickinson, and a dash of Keats, and always a healthy helping of Hardy. In fact, my term paper for my Contemporary Poetry class was a series of mash-ups that I "wrote" ("compiled" might be a better word) of two or more poems we had studied. It was fun, and helped me study these poems in unexpected ways.

But back to the thing with lines of poetry running through my head. And the bittersweet. I've had these two lines from Yeats's famous poem "When You Are Old" running though my head: "But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, / And loved the sorrows of your changing face." I love this line. I get a little lump in my throat and a knot in my heart when I think about the kind of love Yeats is talking about. It's beautiful and something people dream about. But I'm talking about bittersweet poetry today, and this is definitely one such. The rest of the poem breaks my heart every time I read it, but I relish that heartbreak, instead of getting angry like I do when I watch The Notebook.

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And his his face amid a crowd of stars.

Now I try not to be a sap. I really don't like romance movies. But I love love poems. And I love this one. Even though it makes me cry every single time. And I would take the sadness. I would take Love fleeing, and hiding his face amid a crowd of stars, if I got to have someone who loved the pilgrim soul in me. And somehow I know the only way you can have that kind of love is to pay the price of that kind of heartbreak. They go hand in hand, and if you want one you have to accept the other, too. It's bittersweet.

Now go read some poetry. You'll be quizzed later.

Jillian the Sap

1 comment:

  1. Is sap contagious? Cuz I sure caught that disease from your post. I'd never read that Yeats' poem before... I only read his weird religious ones. I need to read more love poems like this!