Love has always been the centre of everything, at least, on that which concerns life. It is the engine that makes the world move and the origin of all intentions. Love makes us feel alive, special, desired, light, but it also makes us stupid at times, damaging our souls and making us suffer tremendously. There are various ways of loving and different types of love that we often see represented in the form of stories in novels and poems. In fact, love has always been the most recurring and repeated theme in writing, and beyond. Perhaps it is because, after all, we are all incurable romantics, reflected in this genre’s high success with the public. Even when these love stories are melancholic or without a predictable happy ending, they give rise to a pool of emotions capable of making us experience the complete spectrum of feelings: from a shy smile to an inconsolable cry. Our vulnerability allows us to feel in our skin the sensations experienced by the protagonists of the story.
The subject of ‘Love Poetry’ has given rise to some of the most beautiful and fascinating poetry where poets illustrate their feelings through the use of figurative language. A love poem is not necessarily about romance, marriage or commitment; it could be something else, yet the expressions of heartfelt emotions seem to be universal: timeless. Nonetheless, it’s also vastly individual. Our own life and expectations will filter what love represents to each one of us. Consequently, it’s no coincidence that not all love poems deal with the blissful sides of love, for it can contain innumerable facets including its deleterious sides such as pain, sadness and loss. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, ‘There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice”.
Love is an unconditional feeling, celebrated, since ancient times in universal poetry and literature throughout history. Compositions like Shakespeare’s sonnets, Christina Rossetti’s romantic ballads and mystic lyrics, Auden’s ‘Blues’ poems, Achebe’s ‘Love Songs’ and Walcott’s modern poetry, are appreciated by lovers of every kind. When reading these poems, we find out that love is treated as a complex subject where all its multi facets are explored, but with a main focus on the joy love can bring, its sensual desires and the pain it may cause. These different views of love are timeless and still significant to culture in today’s century, as the theme of love reflects universal feelings and emotions that humans will live eternally.
Though, love today is increasingly rare. Ours is the time for an almost shouted declaration of feelings. The private has become public, intimacy is abolished in favor of the need to “show”, to deliver to a public dimension what was once kept with modesty within the domestic sphere. We live in an era where there seems to be no more space for love, in which messages, chats and social media have replaced looking each other in the eyes and holding hands, creating an ever-stronger distance between people. Nowadays, there is no longer the desire to invest feelings, to share one’s life with another person and to take care of them.
Many, terrified by the thought of losing their freedom, spend their days without ever binding! Convinced that they do not need love, they seek happiness and satisfaction in the evenings spent having fun with friends in bars and clubs, embarking on occasional meetings, empty and devoid of any feeling, rather than engaging in a stable and lasting relationship.
We can clearly witness a frightening and widespread loss of the values and principles of the past, together with the disappearance of that romanticism and those little attentions and kindnesses, now derided and considered outdated, which are only found in the great classics. We tend to be more superficial, less patient and less scrupulous. There is a tendency to remove poetry from gestures and words that deserve greater importance and sensitivity.
Men no longer know how to court, and women no longer want to be desired! The beauty of waiting is now out of fashion, replaced by the sad habit of – living everything immediately – without love, free from the worry of the consequences and of tomorrow. In a world of technology and temptations, there is no place for anyone who proves to be different. Those who stand out from the crowd by keeping their old and dear values firm, those who still put their heart into gestures and words, know that the same heart will not often find it.
From my young experience, love and lovers of today have changed significantly. In modern society there is a lack of romanticism and sentimentalism; most modern young adults believe that literature on the topic of love and love sonnets are useless as the new generations use different ways and forms of expressing love. Speed-dating and social media are the new form of communication for lovers, but there is perhaps not the same drive to write love poetry or behave romantically as there was in the past. Although we have passed from ‘pen lovers’, of illustrious memory, to ‘chat lovers’, the feeling that still remains in the centre of our thoughts is always the same.
Clearly society evolves over time, changing the way of living, the traditions, media and so also love, not in its nature, but rather in the way of approaching and manifesting it. Differences do exist, and perhaps also from the content’s perspective: if in the past the mental and emotional knowledge was so that two lovers had this feeling that they knew each other since always, because writing had laid bare their souls and their minds, today love has adapted to the contemporaneity and the use of technology. This is not necessarily a negative or positive in the absolute sense, but I do believe that love should be expressed and celebrated in a more romantic and tender way.
Recently a friend confessed to me that he understood how the most beautiful and intense moments of his existence were characterized by a feeling of “unpreparedness”. Well, I believe that he has grasped the central point of the love question: we are never sufficiently prepared for love. If we have the illusion of being, then it is probably not about love. The true encounter, especially the loving one, is always particular, unique, unprecedented, contingent: for this reason, there are no pre-packaged answers, standardized behavioural parameters, ordered schemes to follow to ensure that things “go well”. Love brings with it the enigma, the risk, the fear of losing, the fear of getting lost.
Zygmunt Bauman wrote that “love is a mortgage loan on account of an uncertain and inscrutable future”. In order to live it, therefore, it is necessary to deal with our (irremediable) lack of preparation.