Growing up, Yeats was always a favourite poet. He was mystical and magical and lyrical and full of unrequited love. He still is a beloved poet for just those reasons. All I need to do is read these lines and the tears come unbidden to my eyes. Still. After over 8 years.
We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
In college, Ms. Wendy Dickson, our beautiful, passionate lecturer taught us this poem. And after she'd made us think hard and long about the nature of life and beauty and how life is usually full of suffering and how we must labour to find even the smallest of joys, she asked our silent class - Why has he used the word 'trembling'?
She didn't really wait for any of us to respond. All she did was read the poem 'Adam's Curse' again. She is a gifted reader, she makes the words leap off the page and show us what they mean.
And that's when we felt it - three people - a man and two women (sisters) sitting and idly making conversation. Only, the man is madly in love with one of the women. The woman knows it but finds herself unable to respond. And the talk veers towards love - how he loved her - all that he'd done to win her over. And there it was - the woman felt responsible and may be she even felt twinges of guilt, her sister would've known and she would've felt uncomfortable sitting there between them. May be she wondered what lessons love would teach her. But Yeats, he wouldn't have just been still. He would've looked at the sky to hide the tears of despair and frustration and love from the women. And so the moon in the sky would tremble because he'd be seeing it through his tears.
And when we had this answer, a few us cried. And I still can.
Over the past two years I have been deeply in love with two men - all at once. (Yes, it is possible. Yes, you can love them both equally, most times. And yes, it was good, thank you for asking.) I thought that I could be in love with them and it would keep me safe. Because our relationship was like that. I could love them endlessly and they would love me back the same way but because it was mostly platonic, almost courtly, and highly idealistic; it would not hurt - it could not cause pain. And I didn't love them because they made me feel complete. I loved them because they were so irresistible.
And just the day before, I told one of the men I love, 'I like being in love with you. It's easy and light. And you know just what to expect from me. And I know just how to feel. And you never label me as needy, emotional, intense or whatever it is lesser men tend to do.'
He laughed at me and said, 'We all know you. And we love you for who you are. Even the annoying bits. What is the point in labels?'
There were no labels. There was no point in labelling even our loving. There was no pain at all. Love without pain has got to be the best sort of loving because then it has a lot of laughter. And finally thinking about what I'd found, after a really long time, I was happy and I was at peace. When I returned home yesterday, it was with such a smug feeling that finally I'd found a way to love and be happy at the same time. And that I'd found men I could do that with.
And today I am sitting and weeping over Yeats poetry again.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Just a few waves receding against sand. A spasm of laughter, just till the quickening of a few heartbeats, just till you feel that ah, there is order in the world and there is meaning even in a ménage à trois. That's how long happiness usually lasts.
But when reality strikes and really our humankind cannot bear too much of it, you learn that there is no loving without pain. There is no caring that doesn't bring its own bloody concern.
There is a behaviour that we must learn.
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
Only no one can really teach you that. I know many men and women who do that so very successfully. And they really live. And they never labour. At anything. They are not cursed. They laugh and they kiss and they make love and they move on. They never think. They never really bleed. They never believe that they are in love. And even if they do, they slide out of it like it hardly matters.
You have to be born with it.
Or like me, you must suffer for the folly you made - for thinking you could love and it would help you get away. For thinking you could love and it would be okay. For thinking it would all be the same - that they would all be there, the lovers, just like they always were. The people leave, one at a time, to fulfill their own destinies. And there is change and chaos.
Only words remain. Some carelessly spoken, some dramatically uttered, some confidentially whispered, some desperately discussed, some that made you laugh which now only make you cry.
Because Love is so short. Forgetting is so long.
Nothing remains. Not even the right to love. Only words that wound. And a few dead poets.