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Bob McNeil


WORDS OF LOVE

From the Brownings and Beyond

by

Bob McNeil


(Featured Poet Introduction at the New York Browning Society, 2019)



Of all the subjects at a writer's disposal, love is perhaps the most popular. Quite amazingly, in defiance to wars, famine, economic strife, and this world's ravenous necrogenic appetite, the topic of love endures. Again, I say, this world literary feeds on death. And, yet, love inspires both professional writers and dilettantes. From school children to scholars, love is a favored premise in verses.

It is my modest belief that a poet cannot write a profound composition about love until he or she experiences the hardships of pain, rejection, and loneliness that the world offers. For it is thru abject conditions writers appreciate the divine greatness of Eros, Philia, Ludus, Agape, Pragma, Philautia, and Storge. Allow me to elucidate. Try to imagine obscene wealth. Gifted with every lavish resource in the world, you would grow weary due to the opulence of it all. Let's say that with the wealth, you could eat anything you want at any time you want. After a while, you would no longer appreciate the flavor or texture of the meal. The meal would become quite banal. It would be soporific, indeed. This, too, could be said of love. If your every desire is satisfied all the time, you will learn to take it for granted. Now and then, or perhaps more often than that, you hear couples use a phrase like this: He or she does not appreciate me anymore. Alas, to quote Shakespeare: "Ay, there's the rub."

That aforesaid thought brings me to my point. The reason why the poems and letters of Robert and Elizabeth Browning effectively express love so well is because of the fact that they endured loneliness and pain in their lives. Their connubial union was fate's gift after years of anguish. Elizabeth's illness and her father's disapproval of her romantic relationship did not impede her love for Robert. Built on affection, respect, and words, the Brownings created a relationship for the ages.

Throughout history, as we all know, some of the greatest loves endured emotional blizzards, hurricanes of hostility, and a tsunami of sentiments. Somehow, in spite of the onslaught of trepidations, love remained undaunted. Today, love poetry still communicates by telling us, with each word, despite environmental, racial, and terroristic problems, there is still human warmth. Even in a world of inexhaustible unpleasantness, there is till the beauty of love. This point was not lost on the Brownings, and it should not be lost on us, either.




There is a love

That is closer

Than closeness can be,

Deeper than the deepest skin pore,

More purposeful than the heart,

Farther than the farthest part

Where the bones start,

Within the marrow,

Never becoming fallow,

You will see

The most enduring part of me

Which is my need for you.




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