When Love Finds Its Way: Meant to Be Together
The amazing thing about poems written in centuries past, from times whose mores we perceive to be different, is that the words express sentiments EXACTLY as we feel them today. In other words, we did not invent passion in our modest lifetimes!
I've referred to poems which attempt to define love and to tell us what to expect and offer in a relationship. They express the general rules of engagement with another person, with a partner. Someone said to me today that “you don’t marry the person you can live with, but with the person you can’t live without.” Absolutely! You merge your life with the one who complements you in all the things you observe, feel and do. This poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley was written in 1819. It talks of natural attraction : an irresistible law over which we have no control, which, unfulfilled, lays us to waste. It brims with glorious images, and in the right ceremony, read by the right person, works beautifully as a more personal poem you could include before the vows of marriage are exchanged.
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers mix with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one another’s beings mingle
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea,
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kissed not me?
Shelley was no role-model for marital fidelity, however: at age nineteen, he eloped with sixteen-year-old Harriet Westbrook. Shelley also became enamoured of the philosopher Godwin Wollstonecraft’s daughter, Mary, and he left Harriet for her. During a seance it was proposed that each person present should write a ghost story. Mary’s contribution to the contest became the novel Frankenstein. When Harriet Shelley committed suicide, Shelley and Mary Godwin were married. Shelley lost custody of his two children by Harriet because of his adherence to the notion of free love!
Shortly before his thirtieth birthday, Shelley was drowned in a storm while sailing to Italy in his schooner, the Don Juan. Aptly named.