Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are break-ups a modern invention?

Love is something human kind has grappled with for thousands of years. But what about breakups? Before modern society two people didn't have to worry about divorce, legal separation, common law marriage, speed dating, and friends with benefits. A lot of our dating options, which are products of a 'progressive' age, have created new problems for us to deal with. Although our ancestors never dated as we do now, they had their share of unrequited love, lost love, and broken hearts.

A famous poem by Thomas Wyatt is about his love for Anne Boleyn which cannot be because she belongs to the King:
There is written her fair neck round about;
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.
Or Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee:
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee; 
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me, 
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams 
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling -my darling-my life and my bride, 
In the sepulchre there by the sea, 
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

A poem by Lord Byron (1788-1824):
They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee, 
Who knew thee too well;
Long, long shall I rue thee
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met

In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget, 
Thy spirt deceive, 
If I should meet thee
After long years, 
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears,

Our ancestors loved tragedies and heartfelt woeful poems, not because they are depressing. But because they touch on something very human. For all the modern marvels and wonders of the world the thing that most fascinates us is the good and the bad that comes with being a feeling and sensitive creature. All the intricacies in each civilization have always had the same themes. We can find a manuscript from a lost culture and find that it still resonates with us.

So, maybe our modern love problems aren't so modern after all. For the first time we CAN marry outside our class, race, and even gender. Just because we have the freedom to love doesn't mean we are free from the flip-side of love (rejection, hurt, broken hearts). The more we put our hearts out there the greater the chance we have for it to be thrown back at us. So, we can either accept the good and the bad with love or choose to not experience anything.

The famous saying, originally from Lord Tennyson's poem, in 1850 goes: 'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all.'


1 comment:

  1. The draw of the pain, of the darkness, is the desperate wish that we will finally be delivered from those black depths by our one precious love in the end.