Wednesday, June 27, 2007


A friend of mine in the far reaches of the Frozen North wrote in response to the Goat Songs I sent him that the words "I love you" are insufficient, and often simply wrong. He is dead right, and especially in pointing out how much easier it is to make the case if you don't use those words, or refuse to use them: "I won't say 'I love you'," etc.

I'm reporting my own sense of how language that I have imagination to generate doesn't serve me where I am now.... Shakespeare gets closest to the dilemma and its discontents in Sonnet 18, the most amazing 14 lines in existence, to my knowledge, universally misread. He pours on the negatives and every negative fuels a blazing fire that burns forever in his art...

Here's what he meant:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

That prompted me to answer:

"Those three words"
may be wrong, and are nearly always insufficient, but they are also at some point simply necessary.

I had been writing poetry for three months, making it All Too Bleeding Obvious where I stood, and it still brought about a complete change of climate between us for me to speak those three words in person and have them repeated to me. Liberating and enslaving: all truths worth worrying about are paradoxes.

My friend shares his apartment with a married man whose "close friendship" with him causes comment, but is filed away under "David and Jonathan" rather than "cheating bastards." More power to them, say I. It's the kind of act I knew I did not have the poker face to carry off...

We all have our little shortcomings.


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