Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Aftermark of Almost Too Much Love

To Earthward
by Robert Frost

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of--was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they're gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.


In Earth Time, Moon Time Annette Hinshaw quotes this poem, specifically the lines "Now no joy but lacks salt that is not dashed with pain... ; I crave the stain of tears, the aftermark of almost too much love." At first read, and in most literary analyses of the poem I saw, it is a story of longing for youthful love and discontent with the bitterness of age. Most comments about the poem focused on the sexuality of the first half of the poem and interpreted the last stanza as a longing for death. One blogger, Kelly Fineman, sees the whole poem as a bit more ambiguous than all of that. "I don't think he's a masochist; he's a realist who accepts the complexities of the world, including the negatives along with the positives," she says. I don't even see negatives in this poem, I just see the next step.

Like any good love story the story of this poem can be not only about an individual Lover and Beloved, but also about eternal, universal or cosmic Lovers and Beloveds. It could be about any of us, it could be about all of us, it could be about the God and Goddess or about the Creator and the Created.

In the Wiccan Great Story there comes a time of the year (this time of the year, in fact) when the Father God realizes that he must sacrifice his individual life so that the universal life may continue. He understand that after the spring and early summer of loving his Goddess and their Creation he must shoulder the weight of his responsibility. May and June were the time of those "strong sweets" that caused the "swirl and ache" of the creating-love. Now, August and into September comes the "sweet of bitter bark and burning clove" of sustaining-sacrificing-love. We still get the "aftermark of almost too much love" in the form of the harvest and the hot late summer days, but we know, as he knows, that winter is on it's way.

August is a difficult time of year for me. My birthday is in the first week of September and I feel like August is the end of my cycle. It's that frustrating time before the next start when you aren't quite sure what to do next. I also think the discord between the hot temperatures and shortening days sends me into an existential funk. I seem to weather it well these days, but it's a frustrating few weeks.

How are the shortening days and growing harvest effecting you? How do you feel about the responsiblities you have towards the things you have created? What do you think about Frost's poem?

Thank you to DW and Stubborndev for their beautiful photos.

1 comment:

Kelly Fineman said...

Lovely post - your analysis is great.