All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Many people are affected by the weather. If they wake up to a rainy day, they're in a bad mood and groan. When the sun shines through the bedroom window, they smile and glow. Mind you in the UK, the weather can change at the drop of a hat (in a moment). What started off as a pleasant sunny day, could easily become a rainy one just after breakfast. So if you are weather sensitive in my country, you run the risk of changing personality several times during the day before you go to bed at night. In fact come to think of it the weather has played an important part in the language, too.
We talk about feeling 'under the weather' well, we're all literally under the weather in a manner of speaking but this expression only refers to the bad variety and suggests that you feel depressed and unhappy. But someone with a 'sunny disposition' is usually bright and cheerful. And of course believing that every cloud has a silver lining describes you as an out and out optimist.
Perhaps on a broader level it is better to look at the seasons rather than individual days. And in the UK we are currently experiencing what is called the season of spring but from the feel and the look of things, it's hard to believe that the season of winter has actually said goodbye. Now in spring there is an element of re-awakening and rejuvenation or to put it more simply, nature is coming back to life and feeling young again. As the old saying goes: In the spring a young man s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
That was written by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) a poet much admired by Queen Victoria. What Alfred was on about was the fact that it's the time of year when young men start thinking about love, or shall we say it's stronger at this time than at other times? But what sort of love are we talking about? Perhaps it was the romantic sort dreamed up by Barbara Cartland. I don't suppose you've ever heard of her, have you?. She lived in a house not a million miles from where I'm sitting now although I must admit we were never really buddies.
Throughout her long life (1901-2000) she churned out, sorry, wrote some 723 novels all telling highly stylised stories of dashing young men, often with titles , falling in love with incredibly beautiful young women - all with happy endings. And the big surprise is that new books of hers are still appearing on the bookstalls some 10 years after her death! Her son has come across about 160 unpublished manuscripts and is now publishing those in stages. Then of course there's the romance in pop songs like those of the Beatles, one of whose songs I have chosen for the title of this essay - All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
But for me the most moving romantic period in history is to be found in the works of the writers and poets of the 18th and 19th century. How can you forget the story of Goethe's Werther? The hero falls in love with a girl married to another and as she refuses his love, he blows his brains out. At the time that was written (1787) young men were blowing their brains out all over Europe out of unrequited (not responded to) love!
But for me the real love story is that of my favourite poet, John Keats (1795-1821) who captured in his verse and exemplified in his life this essentially romantic yearning for something and of course someone always out of reach. In one of his poems Ode on a Grecian Urn he describes the two lovers depicted on this vase as never really being able to hold each but remaining for ever young and beautiful as we see them in the design:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
I'm not going to explain all the words - I think you can do that by yourself. And poor John Keats had to leave his lover, Fanny Brawne behind in London in 1820 to go to Italy in the hope of recovering from his tuberculosis although he knew he would die there. Now, in a few hundred years time if the English language still survives and people still read its literature, who do you think will be remembered, John Keats and his poetry or Barbara Cartland and her 700 odd novels? Sorry Barbara, it will never be you!
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