We see all too often at this time (for in the antipodes the summer holiday is ending, and young men and women return to work, their apprenticeships, their studies, or their employment), that  hearts are broken.  This is so common that it is unremarkable: it is not news.

But to the young person whose love has chosen to go elsewhere, it is pain, deep pain. The memory of the time together is akin to a band-aid over a wound. If left on, the soul may find indeed a peace.

Beyond Moeraki Lighthouse.

A couple of glosses: Smart is not intelligence but pain, tygre is tiger, and hart is a double pun with the female deer hunted and one's heart.


My words I know do well set forth my minde;
My mind bemones his sense of inward smart;
Such smart may pitie claim of any hart;
Her heart, sweet heart, is of no tygres kind:

And yet she heares and yet no pitie I find,
But more I cry, less grace she doth impart.
Alas, what cause is there so ouerthwart
That Nobleness it selfe makes thus vnkind?

I much do ghesse, yet finde no truth saue this,
That when the breath of my complaints doth tuch
Those dainty doors vnto the Court of Blisse,
The heau'nly nature of that place is such,

That, once come there, the sobs of mine annoyes
Are metamorphos'd straight to tunes of ioyes.

Sir Philip Sydney

What then, is this metamorphosis? Sydney was of the old Anglican Faith builded up during the renaissance, and when courtly love and gestures still included the joust. He was himself a servant of his government and a soldier under command. He knew his duty, and walked away, for Stella had been betrothed to another, with far more favourable prsopects. He knew that out of suffering came refinement and tempering of one's courage and character as much as his sword was repeatedly placed in the fire as it was pattern-welded.

This was lost in the romantic movement. You get the worship of love in general, not the person. Sydney knew better. His love was for Stella, and when she was lost, he did not generalize, but instead grieved. Barrett Browning, however, tried to make this too abstract. But you do get a sense that, just perhaps, her heart was that of a tiger.

Sonnets from the Portuguese 14

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
I love her for her smile ... her look ... her way
Of speaking gently, ... for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

There are those who say that one can love many: I disagree. To love many, to be Don Juan, is not to love. Love must be specific. To that person, regardless of their frailities. A few days ago I saw a man in his eighties pushing his wife in a wheelchair around a local botanic garden. We should all want to be tha man, that woman, with the person we love until death takes us from them.

A generalized love has not that. Sydney loved Stella, then lost her, then loved again, and wed. Browning may have had the romance of the Victorians in full measure, but every account I read sees her poem as rhetoric. She wed Mr Browning, regardless of the risk.

And our young people who grieve the loss of summer's love will need courage and refinement. For winter, indeed, will always come.