If you’ve been reading this blog awhile than you may remember I came home from a writing residency at the Mailer Colony to find piles of really fun packages and mail. One of them was a nice birthday surprise—a card and book of love poetry from Nathan’s Mom.
I was not only touched that she thought of me, but also touched by the significance in some of the poems inside A Lover’s Posy. One was the famous Sonnet 43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a favorite of my late father’s:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
The other was a sonnet by William Shakespeare, one I had read at a friend’s wedding back in 1999:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
It this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
There’s always something magical about receiving an unexpected gift; there’s something even more magical when it has a deeper significance about which the giver was unaware.