Love Labor's Lost

volumes of mis-adventures

from The History of the World by Sir Philip Sidney

“It is Death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself”

–Sir Philip Sidney (1614)

At last begin to loosen. Far

From the exchange of love to lie

Unreachable inside a room

The traffic parts to let go by

Brings closer what is left to come,

And dulls to distance all we are.                          –Philip Larkin (1964)

My senior year at Iowa I finally got the courage up to change my major to one feigned by my entire family. That year UI had implemented a mandatory Intro to the English Major course, a survey of English literature and criticism starting as early as Marlowe and Shakespeare and ending somewhere in the post-modern abyss of poetry. To my surprise it was probably one of my most influential courses, and probably instilled a desire to study literature to this very day. What’s striking is how removed I was from the black type I read and studied endlessly, and how hauntingly they come to mind when they are relevant. Sir Philip Sidney and Philip Larkin are two poets I had analyzed ad nauseam. When the written words and reality suddenly ram into each other, like two cars on black ice, alliteration, imagery, “deeper meaning,” all fade; numbness, shock, and despair overwhelm the part of the brain that comprehends, and the words remain, holding everything you don’t know how to explain.

 

Целую тебя, Дедушка (Aug. 9, 1922-May 1, 2012)

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